Guess what I did this weekend! Go on, guess.

one black walnut button, (with its bark still on) and one black walnut twig

I started making buttons!

Well, I have yet to finish sanding any yet, due to a suprise moving party an hour’s drive away, but oh, well. I can do that tomorrow.

Anyway, it’s a lot easier to make some nice hardwood buttons, if you have all the hardware and tools necessary.


  • grab a straight stick or limb of your favorite kind of wood/ the available kind of wood
  • make sure it dries out for about a week- any shorter, and it may still be too green to go through your saws/drills without damage to them. Sap can seriously gum up the works of your tools.
  • cut off all sticks and twigs attatched to your straight stick that branch off from it; these joints in the wood would be best to cut as close to the bottom+top of, not using the wood in this area simply because the shape is more difficult to work with.
  • as you begin sawing your buttons (I used a band saw) you’ll want to first slice as sqaurely as you possibly can the end of the branch where it had detatched from the original tree. In my case, I used a limb from our brush pile that had been blown down in a storm, so it was fairly cracked and uneven at this part, and I had to saw off more to make it square with the edges of the limb. However much you need to take off, the object is to make the end a flat end of a cylinder, like a dowel rod.
  • my saw came with a little wall/divider thing that clamps on to the work area, and I decided to move it right where I wanted the thickness of my buttons to be (which is what it’s designed to do)and just went at it. Since the branch was already dried out, I didn’t worry about stripping the bark off first. As you’re sawing, try to keep a pair of needlenose pliers handy, (or tweezers would do in a pinch, I suppose, but I wouldn’t reccomend it) because the buttons may get stuck in between the blade and the wall. As concerning as this may seem, a good way to get it out is simply to saw another button, which will automatically push the first out of the way. The new one may take its place, of course, but if you’re really concerned about it being there, you can nudge it out with the needlenose pliers, or turn off the saw and remove it. After the blade stops moving, of course. I don’t know abut anyone else, but I like my fingers just where they are.
  • After you’ve cut enough buttons-to-be, simply get your drill out, select a small enough (or big enough) bit for the size holes that would suit your button, and drill either 2 or 4 of them. When I did this step, I got out the button jar (which is a good way to store buttons, I think) with the industrially made buttons in it, just for some reference on how big the holes should be, and where they should go, proportionally.
  • then, strip off the bark and sand, and poof! You have handmade wooden buttons!

What to do, What to do…?

Today’s topic: macrame! (That’s “maac ruhh may.”  You know, that cool jewelry-making thing people do with knots? Weirdly enough, when I talk about it to people, they either don’t know what I’m talking about, or instantly associate it with 10-13 year-old girls. Hmmmmm.)

Anyway, I happen to think macrame is loads of fun. I got started out when one birthday (possibly Christmas) when I was about 10 or 11, I got as a gift a book on how to make “friendship bracelets”. Essentially, macrame. 

macrame bracelets, 4 different styles

At first, I was so excited to get into it, and the book came with some pretty colors of embroidery floss, as well as a few other helpful things, and the instructions were easy enough to follow, especially with the images on how the knots worked.  However, one thing the book wasn’t terribly clear on was how to close the thing once you’d finished it. Making jewelry is very cool, but without some nice-looking way to close the loop, it just doesn’t stay. So, I worked with it a bit, and I came up with a few alternatives through trial and error.  

If you’ll notice, the picture has 4 bracelets, and I’ll let you know just how you can make some nice macrame bracelet/anklets/necklaces/shoelaces/zipper pulls/keychains/etc.

I warn you, the lengths are purely trial and error. I’m sure there’s the possibility of a mathematical way to calculate how much string each knot takes, etc, etc, but I am bad at math, so I just use the trial and error approach.

Starting with the blue one at the bottom with the beads:

  • get one REALLY long strand of a color you like (and I do mean long, about a yard, I think) and  make sure you have your beads ready– long, thin ones work the best for the method I used here.
  • wrap one end around our wrist, giving about an inch or two to use as a tie at the end, and at the fold in the strand, tie a knot so that you have a loop
  •   like so—.
  •  <———-‘






So you have one really long strand and one strand that goes around your wrist comfortably with room to tie a knot at the end (you can include the length of the loop in this, but make sure it’s not too snug when the knot is tied)

  • Take the long strand, lay it horizontally across the short strand, and then pull the end (of the long strand) through the loop in between your knot and the spot where you’re doing this knot. (I will demonstrate with my earphones)
    like so

And then you just pull it tight. Not that I’ll do that with my earphones, but you get the idea. 🙂

So, you do this over and over, and there develops a line of bumps on one side of the thing. Now, if you’re pulling it tightly enough, it will spin into a cool little spiral around the short string, like threads on a screw. (you could just want to keep it flat, and that’s fine, I’m just telling you how I did it. All you’d have to do is do the knots a little looser and twist them to line up. It’s pretty easy, once you get the hang of it.)

Once you get a decent amount of knots done, to the point where it looks like a good spot for a bead, all you have to do is thread the bead on the short string, and put the next knot on the other side of the bead. That’s how I did it, but you could also thread both strings through the bead (if they’ll fit) and keep right on knotting until it’s a good spot for the next bead. However you think it should look. After all, it’s your bracelet! 😀

When you’ve finished to a length and knotfullness (really not a word, but oh, well) that you like, simply make 2 square knots at the end with the remaining length, or however you see best. Tie a knot in it, and then try it on for size. If it’s only a bit snug, odds are you can just wiggle it a bit and stretch it to the most comfortable fit. Macrame’s pretty forgiving.

Enjoy your new fashion statement! 😀

(I’ll post instructions on the other 3 styles soon, this is all I had time for currently.)

Snow in August???

…made of snow. 😀 Yep, snow.

So, I know it’s kinda hot out, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I miss there being snow outside. Last March, if you can believe it, on a day that my classes were really spaced out, it just happened to have snowed about 6-8 inches of *perfect* sculpting snow. For those of you who think that all snow is created equal, let me clarify: there are 2 types of snow: 1:wet snow, and 2:dry, powdery snow. For sculpting of *any* kind (including snowballs), you want the wet kind. This snow, for reasons beyond my meterological knowledge, was the perfect balance of moisture.

I *was* just going to go inside the union and get a hot cocoa, honest! But then I thought about how many hours I had until my next class, and how perfect the snow was, and I just couldn’t resist! I don’t know why I decided on theVenus De Milo, or when, but after a while, the idea was planted in my mind.
I gathered up a little mound of snow at first, sweeping all the snow together from the surface of the concrete. I just kept sweeping it together with my hands, building a bigger and taller little mountain of snow, until it became a pilliar, then a pilliar with shoulders. I did a bit of  of adding snow on then packing it in, and a bit of carving out curves and hollows with the blade of my hand. (That’s the pinkie side edge of your hand for those that have never attended a martial arts class lol)
A few things I learned that I will be sure to put in application next time it snows:
  • Wear WATERPROOF gloves. When I did this, I was wearing knit gloves. Not only were they completely useless after about two minutes, They actually collected snow in the spaces between the threads and made me colder. Just not wearing any gloves is also a really bad plan, because I did some of that while I was out there sculpting, and my hands didn’t really forgive me over the whole ordeal for about a week, give or take a few days.
  • Take breaks that are indoors somewhere heated. This was amazingly helpful, and much more so when there was hot cocoa present. Of course, I may be the only one crazy enough to spend hours in the cold just to make a snow Venus De Milo, but hey. I had fun. 😀
  • if you are making something with a realistically proportioned head+neck, be VERY careful. It took me nearly 2 hours just to get the head balanced so that it would stay. Now that I think about it, a little under 1/2 of the total time I spent on that thing was spent solely on  the head. And let me tell you, it fell off SO MANY times. So many. Go slowly and carefully, is all I can really say. When you’re packing new snow onto the head, hold it steady so that you don’t harm it with the pressure of your packing hand. I know I pushed the head completely off by packing carelessly.
  • You should probably either do a better job at making it recognisably the Venus De Milo, or choose a different subject matter than I did, if you’re making this thing in a public place. Because there are a lot of people who called my venus a “snow woman”, which, while accurate, was not the point, and has connotations I did not care for.
  • If you want the outside of the sculpture to be pretty white, instead of covered with random dead leaf litter and dirt, use some snow from a fresh place, skimming off the top, to pack on the outside. Kinda like painting it. Only not really lol ^_^
  • Have fun!! This is essentially a different spin off of building a snowman,
  •  so don’t be afraid to be a kid just a little bit. 😀

Happy sculpting! Too bad there’s no snow right now, but someday, there will be.