Saturday, December 4, 2010

Iron Crafter: Clothespins! Reindeer Placecard/Photo holder

A fun craft blog I've found does a contest like Iron Chef... only for crafters! Iron Crafter!

This round's secret ingredient is clothespins, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I had a few ideas, none of which are so original that I'd win or anything, but I'm in it for the fun, not the fame and fabulous prizes!

All my ideas revolved around using the clothespins to hold artwork or photos or something, so I decided to try the "easiest" idea first, and if I get the more involved project done in time too, then yay for me.

My idea was to use clothespins as 'legs' on an animal that can be used to hold placecards or photos at a holiday table.
Since it's the Winter Holiday Season, I opted for a reindeer, but I sketched out some other alternatives for Easter and Thanksgiving as well.

Wooden spring-clothespins [2 per holder]
Brown and tan felt
Small googly eyes [2 per holder]
Small red or black pompoms [1 per holder, or can cut in half]
Elmers, craft, wood or hot glue (I used Elmers.)
Brown acrylic paint
Lightweight cardboard (like an empty cereal box) or thin plastic (like a clean, empty milk jug) 

Step 1: Take the clothespins apart to paint them. 
I had a hard time getting them apart, until I figured out the 'secret.' I popped one half sideways off the spring and then was able to shimmy it out from under the little bar in the groove. Then I slid the rest of the wire off the other half.

Step 2: Paint wooden parts of clothespins brown, let dry, then reassemble.
I painted 3 sides of each part first, then let the paint dry while resting it on the bare side, then came back to paint the 4th side and do touch-ups. They stuck to the newspaper and I ended up having to paint again to cover the bits that tore off and stuck to the paint. Maybe use wax paper instead of newspaper.
Step 3: Lay out 2 clothespins on cardboard and trace to get an idea of where the 'legs' will be, then draw body outline around it. This will become your template.
I chose a squarish reindeer to go with the squarish legs, and I liked the look better than the rounded one I had mocked up. It doesn't matter which way your template faces, since you can always flip it to trace your shape if you want it to go the other way, or if you want to alternate them.

Step 4: Carefully cut out template.
It would have been easier with an Xacto knife, but I was able to tape up the cut I made to get to the outline. No problem.

Step 5: Use template to trace onto cardboard. Make as many copies as you want. Carefully cut them out.
For this one, I just used the one that I cut out to make the template, since it was already there!

Step 6: Paint the back sides (and the front side edges only) of the cardboard shapes brown. Let dry.
Since I used a cereal box, the outside surface was harder to coat with the paint, so I ended up having to flip my reindeer over and switch the direction he would be facing, so that the logo side of the box would be under the felt. You only need to paint the edges on the side that will be covered in felt, just to help blend in any mistakes/uneven parts.

Step 7: Flip template to face the opposite way from your cardboard body and trace onto brown felt, skipping the antlers.
Trace antlers onto tan felt. The fine-tip Sharpie was not the best idea, as it was too wide for my shape and I had to color in a lot, which showed through on my tan felt. A thinner tip, or possibly a fabric marker would have been a better idea.

Step 8: Apply glue to top side of reindeer shape and apply felt.
I started with the antlers, then did the body.
I applied glue with my paintbrush to distribute it evenly
After applying antlers, I squirted glue onto the body then
used my brush to distribute evenly.
Then I applied the felt body.
Step 9: Let glue dry.
I used clothespins to hold together the little parts, like antlers, ears and tail, to make sure that they got a good seal, and then other edges for the same reason. But pressing under a heavy book would probably do the same thing.

Step 10: Glue on eyes and nose. Let dry.
I had bought a packet of mini red pompoms, but I
ended up deciding that they were too small.
I cut a small pompom in half so it would lay better
 and glued it on.
 Step 11: Glue on clothespin legs. Let dry.
I used a heavy object to weight down the clothespins
to make them stick more securely.
In hindsight. it makes more sense to glue on the pins first, THEN the eyes and nose.

Step 12: Trim excess felt or cardboard. Enjoy!

Other ideas:
Sheep for Easter (could also do rabbit or chick, head-on,)
or a turkey for Thanksgiving.
You could even do a 'handprint' Turkey!
Or if you're really crafty, one of Santa's elves!
(or a shorty Santa.)

Also shown at:
The DIY Show Off


  1. This is such a cute idea! I think they would make adorable placecards!

  2. Very cute! I have been reading your blog(S) and you are freaking hilarious!!! Love it! You just got yourself another stalker...oh I mean follower :)


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