DIY Fun: Toy Camera

Homemade toy camera

I remember a simpler time in my life, I must have been five or six years old. I would walk about with this camera around my neck. It belonged to my mother, who in a fit of mad generosity had given it off to me. It was love at first sight, I took it everywhere with me! I don’t know which brand it was or what kind of lens it had, but it was a film camera with a slim, steel and black body. It had a view finder that made everything look so much more beautiful, and the lever to click pictures made the perfect ‘click’. The thing was encased in this gorgeous tan leather case.

If my memory serves me right, I usually wore a hat when I was clicking – one of the floppy variety – and I’m certain I felt pretty professional in my gear. Alas! There is no picture of me with the camera, so I cannot produce proof.

I would potter around the house, garden and terrace peering at quizzical things through my lens. Once I was lucky enough to be able to observe a garden lizard for quite a while…I lay prostrate in the yard, gazing away, comfortable in the knowledge that the camera was there to protect me.

Back to the present-ish, I was looking for toys to buy for little Mr. K close to his birthday. We had already decided to get him a balance bike as the big present – he was turning two after all – but I had saved up a little to be able to splurge on his big day. And toddler cameras were a real thing! It made me wonder if that vintage treasure from mum had fostered my shutter love. But whatever was available in the market was either too ‘flashy’ (I abhor light and sound toys) or was for older kiddos.

The next best thing was to make one. Thankfully, crafty and inspirational parents out there have shared their DIY tutorials on building cameras ranging from simple to actual working models. I chose to keep it simple given my child’s age and my low level of expertise.

I’m a bit obsessed about re-purposing cardboard, so the natural choice for me was to start with a small cardboard box as the base. The shoe box of Mr. K’s  first shoes was the perfect size. I then collected other bits and bobs to put together our funky little camera. You could come up with your own version depending on what you can corral together.

Here’s what I used:

  • a small shoe box for the base
  • a cloth kitchen-towel to cover the camera so that it lasts longer. You can go with a paper cover too
  • a cardboard circle cut out for the lens edge. I painted it black to add a punchy contrast
  • a ‘viewfinder’ – a plastic piece from a ‘dismantled’ bubble gun
  • a cap from a shampoo bottle for the magical ‘click’ sound
  • a strap/belt from an old satchel
  • a needle and some thread
  • a bottle of Fevicol MR General Purpose

You can create a cute camera with just these supplies. The lens just adds some flair and makes Mr. K feel very important. I also like the fact that it adds a bit more scope for interactive play.

For the lens:

  • a 2-inch piece from the cardboard of a kitchen paper roll
  • 2 plastic caps from the cans of a bottled-water dispenser
  • acrylic paint
  • a 3-inch bit of string

Armed with these supplies, I began my project. First, I stuffed the shoe box with some newspaper and bubble wrap to prevent it from collapsing when stress tested by the said toddler. Then I covered it with the kitchen towel and sewed up the edges that gave me a neat, rectangular box to work with. Then I glued on the black circle to the center of the front face of the box using Fevicol. To this, I stuck one of the caps from the water dispenser can to create a holding point for the ‘lens’. Then, I sewed on the ‘viewfinder’ and stuck the shampoo bottle cap on the top face of the camera. Since the bottle cap was plastic, it refused to be held down by Fevicol…I heated the bottom edge on a candle flame and pressed down firmly to fuse it with the cloth. The pictures below try to capture the key points.

diy toy camera

Now, on to the lens. Since I was working with a yellow kitchen towel and had found a bright vermilion strap for the camera, I decided to go with a similar colour for the lens. I painted the piece of kitchen towel roll a sunny vermilion and left it to dry for a few minutes. Once it was dry, I pierced a tiny hole near one edge and inserted the bit of string. The second cap of the water dispenser (I painted this white with acrylic paint) became the ‘lens cover’ once I had strung it through and knotted off the tiny bit of string.

Ta-da! Our homemade, simply adorable little camera was ready for a test drive. After attaching the strap to the sides, I adjusted the length to fit my bub. It had been a major task fending him off until I had completed the task, so he was thrilled to bits when I finally handed the camera to him. And he went shutter-happy in an instant!

I steal it when he’s not looking just to go, “Click, click, click.” Okay, I might be too much in love with it. I hope Mr. K enjoys it for a long time.

Super Easy Paper Bows made from Sticky Notes

Easy paper bows

I am a big fan of gift toppers – ribbons, flowers, bows – bring them on. It’s always wonderful to receive a gift, and seeing that special touch of an embellishment is really nice too.

Sometimes you may have so much going on that crafting a fancy topper or making that run to the stationery shop may be out of the question. While looking for quick options to create a bow, I came across this one from the inspiring designer at How about Orange. Since I didn’t have a printer on hand, I decided to use the inspiration to make my own version with sticky notes.

These paper bows have come to my rescue often, making that simple gift a wee bit more endearing. And the best part is that they don’t need any elaborate printing or cutting. Just use your trusty sticky notes to give a gift added flair.

I’ve used sticky note prompts, but you can make these from pretty much any size or shape of sticky notes.

supplies for paper bow

Supplies from your desk

• sticky note prompts – 3 per bow

• a glue stick or Fevicol

• a pair of scissors

• a pencil (optional)

 

How to make the paper bows

Crafting the Bow

1. Take one note prompt and create a loop by sticking together the narrow edges. Now repeat with the second note.

2. Slide a pencil into the loop and pinch the glued edges as shown above. Glue the pinched bits to create a gentle crease. Do this for the other loop as well.

3. Stick the two loops to each other by overlapping the pinched edges.

4. Set aside for the joint to dry.

Tidying it up

5. Now take the third sticky note and snip off a narrow piece from one end.

6. Wrap it tightly around the pencil to curl it. Hold for a few seconds and unfurl the curly strip.

7. Cover the joint with this sliver of paper; glue the edges to the bow.

8. Hold the paper in place with your fingers until the glue dries.

Adding finishing touches

9. Fold the remaining piece of the third sticky note in half.

10. Snip off a triangle from the open side to create the ends for the bow.

11. Unfold and cut along the crease to get two pieces. Glue each piece to the back of a loop of the bow so that the edge with the ‘V’ sticks out over the loop.

12. Ta-da. Your pretty, chic bow is now ready to adorn your gift.

These super quick, easy bows look great on gift boxes, paper bags, books and can even cheer up a brown paper bag. So go ahead and make some right away!

Ideas for Diwali Decor: Lights and More

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How time files! Diwali is already around the corner and I hope you are in better shape than I am. Though my plan is to have a laid back diwali this year (the lazy me came up with the idea) I still want a sprinkling of lights in the festive season. The twinkle of lights and rangoli spell Diwali like nothing else does.

Over the past couple of years, I found some lovely ideas on Pinterest to add a few quick touches of warmth to the home. I had shared my finds here on SunnyNomad back in 2012. This time too, there is tons of inspiration to be found and I have been pinning away with glee.

If you’d like DIY festive decor but are hard pressed for time to search, fret not. I have pulled together many creative ideas in one place. These are easy to recreate while adding heaps of charm to your home. Yay!

collage

Diwali Decor Ideas on Pinterest

You can find my Diwali decor idea board here Diwali Decor: Lights and more

Pick from crafts that are snappy five minute fixes to projects that can fill your entire weekend with happy moments of ungluing your fingers. No, you don’t end up doing that? Just me then.

I’d love to know which ideas you like best. And do share with us your special way of celebrating the festival of lights.

Happy Diwali, may your year be filled with prosperity, love, good health, laughter and adventures!

For more inspiration on beautiful finds that add lots of cheer to your life, follow me on Pinterest here SunnyNomad

Balcony Love: Hand Painted Planter

Auto Rickshaw paint

Balcony Love: Hand Painted Planter

 

Now that I’m on a break from paid work, I have some mornings when I need to get onto a project for the sake of staying sane. So, I’ve been trying to fix that cursed black thumb of mine…anything I tried to grow promptly died on me in the past. But I am so happy to see that some of my new green friends are positively thriving.

To break the jinx, I bought plants from my local nursery and had them potted by their gardener. A couple of palms, a fern, a native bush that has pretty peach blossoms and a lemon tree. As they began to thrive under the care of little K and me I began to dream of bigger things. I was bold enough to bring out two old tubs that had been purchased a couple of years ago with the intention of growing tomatoes.

I really wanted to add more colour to my balcony garden, so the pepper saplings (I grew them from seed. Hurrah!) were planted in a tub that I painted turquoise blue. I stencilled on a simple graphic of elephants and voila, I had a happy place to nurture my bright coloured peppers. (If and when they actually arrive, that is. Fingers crossed.)

The baby steps I took towards sprinkling some balcony love, have added a lot of happy mornings to our life. K and I spend time watering, pruning, weeding and learning about nature in the early morning sun. What a great activity for a toddler, which also gives him the daily dose of vitamin D.

So to add a touch of whimsy to our morning ritual, I decided to paint a plastic basket before I planted some basil in it.

Now, much to my dismay, my wee one is head over heels in love with vehicles of every kind. His love affair began with ‘bus’ and ‘auto’, and now has spun out of control. I’m dismayed because I didn’t want him to be such a boy. I do find some solace in the fact that he loves ‘cooking’ just as much. So to begin with, maybe I should try not to slot him.

I’ve been meaning to paint an auto rickshaw for a long, long time. With the renewed burst of optimism from nature, I thought I could do it this time. Or maybe it was just a case of too much sun, if you know what I mean. For over a week the poor basket had sat on my table painted a staid grey on white just crying out for some colour. And against my initial inhibitions against kitsch, I went for it.

I used acrylic colours for this planter since they hold up well to rain and sun. The simple joy those couple of hours brought me is something I will hold onto for a while. As K napped, I pencilled in the outline and went to work with the colours. It’s been a few years since I’ve held a brush, so I was thrilled with the final product.

 

Auto Rickshaw painting

Balcony Love: Hand Painted Planter

Hand Painted Planter with a polka dotted back

Hand Painted Planter with a polka dotted back

 

My special props assistant did a smashing job as I clicked these pictures. But by the end of his shift, he’d had enough and decided that the only way to stop his mad mum was to make away with the ‘ahtou’.

 

Props Assistant: Various Moods

Props Assistant: Various Moods

 

The results are here for you to see. What do you think?

DIY Handpainted planters1

The Makeover: a shabby plastic basket turns into a quirky, fun planter

 

 

SEASON OF LOVE: FREE PRINTABLE VALENTINE CARD

I know it’s quite cheesy to say this, but am going to risk it – Love is in the Air! It is February after all.

While I believe that we don’t need a special day to tell people that we love them, I still like to indulge mildly in this month of pink and crimson. Yes, St. Valentine’s Day is a one of those hyper-commercialized days even in India. But, if we don’t give in to the hoopla, isn’t any excuse great to have special time together? To simply expresses how grateful you are that you found this person. To tell them you are the luckiest person alive to be with them. To just put all your feelings down on paper. And to do it in a fun and special way.

Each day of the year, we express our love through actions – by showing care, by tuning in to the other person’s needs and even by just lending a helping hand. On hallmark days, a simple gesture to express your love tells your partner that you have taken the time to think about them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be surprised with a love note yourself?

Ever since I can remember, I have never really obsessed about Valentine’s Day. That specific date. Back in college, we used to have a ‘Rose Day’ sometime in February. A day celebrating secret crushes and love (because you could send anonymous rose cards). When I started working, my agency used the same idea, but we didn’t make a day of it. A half hour after lunch was spent listening to poetic messages (most were anonymous, again) and swapping chocolates. All through my teen years, it was mandatory for girlfriends and boyfriends to give each other cards. So the point am trying to make, is that for me, the celebration of love is closely linked to messages on paper. An email will just not cut it.

All of this was running through my mind last week, and I wanted to create something that would let us say ‘I Love You’ without being predictable. I saw the abundance of flowers, cute animals, hearts and chocolates swirling around as tokens of love,  but my mind kept searching for more. Like most ideas that pop into my head, the one for this card popped in when I was engrossed in a totally unrelated activity. I was pickling! So bizarre. Red chilies being pickled led to me the image you see above. I refined my initial thoughts to craft a couple of messages that I think will work.

The picture above and a message variant is now available as an art print and on other merchandise like iPhone covers, totes and throw pillows in my Society6 Shop. And just for you, I have created a FREE printable card to tell your loved one that they are indeed the spice of your life!

To download your free printable click on this link: Only You Valentine Card

Can you think of a message that will go with this image? If there is something else that you’d like to say to your sweetheart, drop me a line in the comments section below and I’d be happy to work on a custom card for you!

Hope you have a lovely season of LoVe!

DIWALI DECOR: 25 WAYS TO LIGHT UP YOUR HOME

The first thing my mum does, when Diwali is just around the corner, is buy our big, fat Diwali lanterns. Over the years we’ve also made a few at home. One was always hung in the balcony of our apartment. A few modest clay diyas lined the windows and precisely two were kept right outside the main entrance. These little lights and a colourful large rangoli meant Diwali was here.

Now my parents live in a row house, which means many more windows and balconies. So there are three big, fat lanterns, string lights and hand painted diyas. My sister loves to do up the traditional diyas with glitter and colours. She’s super at it, maybe I’ll dupe her into doing a tutorial this time! So my point is, today, none of us can get away with the simple stuff we grew up with. Too much pressure, I say. As we amp up the celebration of the festival of lights, I thought of doing a quick round-up of excellent ideas to bring in the light all through the festive season.

I’ve pinned 25 lovely, DIY inspirations. Some of them can be assembled in 5 minutes flat while others can keep you busy all through this weekend. From the ever versatile tea lights to bare, naked bulbs, the possibilities are pretty much endless.Head over to my Pinterest board Diwali Lights Decor to take your pick.What do you do to light up your home for the festival?

Project DIY: 10 Minute Evil Eye Charm

When I was travelling to Israel and Turkey last year, I was determined to return with a unique Evil Eye Charm for our home. I saw tons of them, but they all seemed like touristy versions, and I wasn’t too happy. Which is when the idea of creating my own struck me.

I found some really ideal, simple glass evil eye pendants the size of my palm in Tel Aviv. Since am usually looking for a bargain, I decided to go for the plain ones with a blue nylon string to hang them. At 8 Shekels a piece, they were about 20 shekels cheaper than fancy ones. I was going to add my own personal touch to these anyway, so it made complete sense to buy the minimalistic pendants.

It took me about a year but while I was unpacking here in Porbandar, miraculously, I found all the bits to make up a wonderful unique piece. A length of thick, coarse string, some beads and the evil eye itself. Like the title of the post promises, this won’t take you longer than 10 minutes to rustle up.

You will need:
1 evil eye pendant made of glass or ceramic. Pick a size you like
Some coarse string of desired length and proportion to your pendant
10-20 beads in colours of your choice
Thin string to tie the beads

Start off by stringing the pendant through your coarse string so that you have at least 6 strands to create a braid.Tie a firm knot as shown here to hold the pendant in place.

Now, braid the strands artfully. As you can see, I started off with a casual three-piece braid and then changed it to a slightly more intricate six string one. 

It is time to thread your beads through the thinner string. Tie a knot at each end of the beads to keep them from slipping off and make sure you leave enough thread on either side to enable you to comfortably tie it around the coarse string braid.

Depending on the thickness of your braid, use 2-3 beads for each round of adornment. I used beads in only three places, since I really wanted to see more of the coarse string. Tie off the ends of the string to create a sturdy way to hang the pendant on the wall. And you’re done!

The smooth glossy finish of the pendant is offset wonderfully by the coarse string and the few black beads add a bold accent to this piece. All that remains to be done now, is to hammer a nail into the wall, next to the switch for the buzzer to proudly display your new accessory. And to ward off the evil eye!