Friday, May 16, 2014

Mini Barn Raising

Junior Carpenter
Tragedy struck our house when a rabid raccoon massacred our chickens. I'm going to spare you the details, but it was a scene straight out of the movie Saw. I kid you not. Raccoons are mean. 

I wasn't going to let that nasty beast stop me from having fresh eggs and I decided to invest in a new red barn style coop from the tractor supply store and some new chicks from the local garden center. The coop came in a lot of pieces but my 5 year old and I had our power drill and we were ready to build.

Rain Gutters
The first four pieces went up like magic. My little helper even was able to get time on the drill. Everything fit reasonably well, though the side door does have quite a gap in it, but I can fix that at a later date by drilling in an extra piece of wood. We were chugging along like Bob the Builder but then hit a complete stop when it was time to put on the rain gutters, boy was that complicated. The picture wasn't clear and I had no idea what the heck was up with these things. It took me quite a while to figure out how to put it together. After that was done, the roof went up quickly. 

The next part that had me stumped was putting together the nest box. However, I think the directions were clear and if I wasn't interrupted with some important news bulletin from my children that needed my immediate attention every three minutes, it probably wouldn't have taken as long to put together. 
The quality of the coop matches up with the price. It isn't as sturdy as those 1000 dollar coops that mimic sheds, but it isn't 1000 dollars either. It does not have a floor on the inside and there is no door between the run and the inside of the coop and those are things I plan to add in the future.

Big enough to fit 6 pullets and a human 5 year old
Grade: B  
Skill Level: Low
Difficulty Level: Moderate 
Frustration Level: Moderate 
Price: $$$ 

Yes, he did fit himself through that tiny door

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mosaic Birdhouse with Broken Tiles

Every time I see a wooden birdhouse go on sale at a crafty store I MUST purchase it. I usually just paint them, recently I experimented with doing a marble birdhouse, which turned out fabulous.  For mothers day I decided to step up my game and try broken tiles mixed with floral marbles. 

I get my creative/art side from my mom so I know that she would appreciate the effort that I put in on this gift, no matter how it turned out. I know this is the perfect Mother's day gift for her.

Unfinished wooden birdhouse
Broken Tiles
Floral marbles
Ceramic NipperMastic
Sanded grout (tinting optional)
Spatula (just for crafting, not food)

1) I had saved a bag of cracked pieces from my butterfly meadow dish collection for future tiling projects. So I just smashed the bag against the sidewalk. In hindsight, I should have used the ceramic nippers instead, it was time consuming finding all of the broken pieces and placing them together. If I didn't have the heart to break dishes and teacups, there is an estate store in my town that actually sells the broken ceramics and glass for 2 dollars a bag.  I picked up some of those too in order to give my piece some additional colors.

2)I laid out the tile pieces in a pattern on a towel to get a feel for what it should look like on the birdhouse. I used the ceramic nippers on the edge of the tile to break off pieces for a better over all shape to fit. Just don't stick ill fitting tiles next to each other, make sure they generally fit, almost like a puzzle, but you don't have to be neurotic about it.

3) I smoothed the mastic all over the birdhouse with my craft spatula (not my food one, that is gross). then placed the tiles on the mastic. Let the mastic cure overnight so that the tiles are snug on the birdhouse. DO NOT use the grout to attach the tiles to the house, they WILL fall off.

4)Mixing together sanded grout with water is like making mud pies; it reminds me of my childhood. I also applied the grout with my craft spatula to the house. I have found many uses for this 'craft' spatula. I tried using my fingers to smooth on the grout... BIG mistake with the broken tiles because now I have a nice gash in my hand. Resist the urge to rub your hands over the tile, you are asking for trouble. I used colored grout that I had left over from my kitchen floor. I think the colored grout looks so much better than the white on tile projects. It somehow gives it a more professional look.

5) When sponging off the grout, make sure the sponge is damp because a sopping wet sponge makes such a mess. I kept on rinsing and wiping, rinsing and wiping until the tiles showed through the grout.

I think my mom will love it.

Grade: A  
Skill Level: Low
Difficulty Level: Moderate 
Frustration Level: Moderate (this makes a huge mess)
Price: $ - $$