Tag Archives: craft

Call for Guest Bloggers

Home-made kite tail for kite aerial photography

Home-made kite tail for kite aerial photography

One of the fascinating things I find about doing biological and geographical research is the tools that scientists make for themselves to help them in their research.  For example, I designed and my dad constructed a set of quadrat frames for me.  I’ve also constructed two low altitude remote sensing platforms and the accessories that go with them like a fuzzy tail and camera housing for my air photo kite.

Now it’s your turn!  What tools have you made or re-purposed to help you collect or process data?  Do you have a creative use for straws?  Have you constructed a tool you couldn’t buy anywhere?  I’m looking for researchers of all kinds who have made their own tools to write a blog post about their creation.  The text can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a page and should describe what the tool is and how you use it.  It can also include instructions for how to make it, if you would like.  All submissions should include at least one photograph of the tool.  Submissions should be emailed to micheletobias [at] yahoo [dot] com.


Costumes: Sheep

It’s October, so it’s time for costumes!  Last fall, I made sheep and wolf costumes for a performance of the Pamela Trokanski Dance Theatre that was called “Sheep/Wolves/We The People”.  I made 6 sheep costumes for the apprentice company, which they used in several numbers throughout the work.  Above, you’ll find the video of the Sheep/Wolf Rap.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any still shots of someone wearing the finished product, but a video is also helpful.  Note that these costumes took quite a bit of abuse – several dress rehearsals and three performances!

Here’s how I made them…

Loosened cotton balls glued down

For the shirt, you’ll need HEAPS of cotton balls, hot glue, and a white men’s undershirt tank.  The shirt needs to be a size or two larger than you (or the person who will wear the costume) would normally wear because once you’re done gluing on the cotton balls, the fabric won’t stretch as much.  The procedure is simple.  First, stretch out the shirt a little.  Next, I found it helpful to loosen the cotton balls.  The are made of cotton sheets wound up in a spiral, so if you loosen them up, they get bigger so you need fewer of them.  Finally, glue them on.  You’ll need to find a balance between too much glue and not enough.  An X across the cotton ball would be a good way to secure them.  Occasionally, I didn’t secure the middle of a cotton spiral, and they came out.  In the video you can see some dangling.

A finished sheep top

For the hat, you’ll need a fabric marker, snaps or velcro closures, black felt for the ears, and white felt for the hat part.  To make the shape of the hood, I traced another person’s head profile and cut it a little larger to allow for the seam and some extra room.  You can always sew the seam tighter, but it’s hard to add fabric once you’ve cut it.  I also made a tab of fabric that goes around the neck.  You’ll cut out 2 of the white hood shapes and sew them together along the top and back of the head.  Add your snap or velcro to the neck tab.  Finally, cut out 2 matching black ears and attach them, and you’re done.

The hat for reference

Sheep costumes make excellent beds for older kitties too!


21 Pairs of Underwear Later…

… I have a rag rug.  Yup.  It’s a rag rug made out of old boxer shorts.  Why?  Well, it may be a long story, but here it goes.

The boyfriend and I are moving across town soon, but we’ve been planning this for about 6 months, so we started purging closets and junk piles a while ago.  During this process, I learned that the boyfriend has been rather reluctant to part with his old undershorts.  Why?  I’m really not sure.  Some of them had rips, others were worn so thin you could see through them.   Anyway, he wouldn’t throw them out, so I promised that if he would make me a stack of them (washed in hot water), I would find some use for them.  Moving day is approaching fast I didn’t want to move a stack of old undies, so I had to find a project, quick.  The answer: a rag rug.  I figured it can’t hurt to have another rug, especially one that can be used as a bath mat (kitty sometimes voices her displeasure with something by “going” on the bathmat so extras are helpful).  Anyway, what you see is the result.

How did I make it?  It’s pretty easy to find instructions for these online.  Making a rag rug is super simple.  Basically, you cut strips of fabric, braid them, then sew the braid together along the edge of the braid.  There are some things to make it easier though.  Here are some thoughts in no particular order:

  1. Use sturdy thread to sew the braid into the rug.  I started with “button thread” (that’s what the old spool of thread said it was), which is apparently thick maybe even waxed thread.  It seemed a lot like quilting thread to me.  It worked great.  Then I ran out of it, and used regular sewing thread doubled up.  That didn’t go so well… splits, fraying, fuzzing… might have to mend the outside layers of the rug more quickly than the inside.
  2. Keep a consistent thickness in your braid.  Thin fabric might need to be cut into thicker strips than more substantial fabric.
  3. Seams in the fabric make bulky spots so minimize these if possible.
  4. You don’t need to sew your strips together when you reach the end of a strip when you’re braiding.  I just overlapped the new strip on top of the old one and kept going.  I figured the sewing and the braid itself would keep it together and it does.
  5. Don’t stress about imperfections.  It’s a rag rug.  It’s gonna look rustic.  And honestly, even the problems that seemed big don’t even show in the finished product.
  6. If there’s a logic to what you do, it will look good.  I had a pile of different plaids.  I kept one red, one blue, and one strip with white of some sort at all times.
  7. Mix it up.  I didn’t want blocks of solid colors because I thought it might drive me crazy if they ended up uneven.  Three completely different patterns totally looks fine when braided together.

I can’t decide if the finished rug is going on the floor yet.  It ended up a somewhat awkward size – almost square even though I started with a rectangle – and it’s kind of too cool looking to walk on.  I might hang it on the wall as a conversation piece.  We’ll have to see when we get to the new house.