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Monday, April 29, 2013

TEDx Talk - Auburn University

Check out this promo video for Auburn University's 2013 TEDx Talk.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hippity Hoppity

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Hi!  I am a little late posting this.  However, I think this project turned out pretty cute; therefore, I wanted to go ahead and share it with you even if we are a bit past Easter.  You could apply the same concepts to make something for summer.

Judd and I just moved into a new house in a new city.  We feel so blessed to be in this new location and starting this next chapter in our lives.  I graduated with my Ph.D in December 2012 and was hired the same month for a new job at my alma mater, Auburn University, as the Director of Assessment and Strategic Planning in the Division of Student Affairs.  I worked out my 30-day notice at my job at UAB, said goodbye to my dear colleagues there, and came straight to Auburn.  The last few months have been a whirlwind of change in the best ways possible.

The house we are living in was actually the first one we rented as newly weds when we were first graduate students.  After we moved out, Judd’s parents bought the house and it has been vacant ever since.  I was eager to improve the curb appeal a little and to make it apparent that someone really lives in the house now.  I set out to find something pretty to hang on the front door.

The idea for this project came from a shopping trip with my MIL for something cute to put out front.  I found some really precious spring/Easter d├ęcor made from painted burlap.  I was in love with a particular carrot.  When I turned it over to check the price; however, it was all I could do to keep my pupils from turning to dollar signs like in cartoons.  The carrot I liked so much was priced at around $50.  I could not believe some cheap burlap, stuffed with trash bags, with some paint slapped on it could cost so much.  We immediately got in the car and went to the local craft store to purchase the materials to make this one ourselves. It turned out pretty cute. What is to follow in this post is a quick tutorial on how to make your own Hippity Hoppity Easter Carrot.  I made mine for well under $10 because I already had a good many of the necessary supplies.

The items below are what you will need to make this craft.

  • 1 yard of cream burlap folded in half
  • Acrylic paints (orange, white, and two shades of green)
  • Fabric paint with a tip for writing (black)
  • Sharpie marker
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush 
  • Kitchen trash bag or drop cloth to place underneath while painting
  • Several plastic garbage bags or plastic grocery sacks for stuffing
  • Hot glue gun
  • Small piece of wire to use for hanging
  • paper plate to serve as a paint palate

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The first step is to cut your burlap into the desired carrot shape.  Since I folded the burlap in half, I cut both the front and back sides of the carrot out at the same time after drawing the shape I wanted on the top piece of burlap with my sharpie marker.  Don’t worry about making marks on the fabric because the top piece with the lines on it will eventually be placed underneath the clean piece.  The lines will go on the inside of your carrot and will never be seen again.

Next, paint on glue using a paint brush dipped in water.  This step will make your burlap stiff and will help your paint to go on better.  Allow the glue to dry.

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After you have drawn your template.  Place it beneath the clean piece of burlap.  Use the lines you drew to trace your design with paint .  Make sure you are painting on what is now your clean front piece of burlap.  In the photograph below, I peeled an edge of my clean portion up a bit so that you can see the template I drew sitting underneath it.  Next, paint your stem entirely with the darkest shade of green. 

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While the green stem is drying, use the faint lines showing through from the bottom piece of burlap to guide the painting of your white chevron patterned sections.

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While your white painted sections are drying, use the lightest shade of green to highlight your stem. You may even want to use a bit of white paint for highlighting.

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Next, fill in the sections that are supposed to be painted orange.

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Allow all sections to dry well.  When ready, use the black paint with the tip for writing to write the message and then outline the carrot.

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Allow to sit for several hours.  I let mine sit out overnight.  When the writing and all other paint sections were totally dry, I hot glued about 3/4ths of the back of the painted side to the front of the side with the template drawn on it so that all exterior pieces look nice.   I left a space open to allow for stuffing in the plastic bags.  I completed gluing all sides together once I felt the carrot was properly stuffed.  Here is how it looked in the morning.

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I couldn’t wait to hang it on our front door.  I quickly  put the piece of wire through the carrot at the base of the stem poking it from the back to the front.  Then I curled the ends of the wire around my finger. 

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I was pleased with the finished product.  Our house sits back far from the street and we needed something large enough to show up from the road.  Since we’ve just moved, we haven’t had time to do any other types of curb appeal improvements.  For now, the carrot (or our next front door craft to come) will be enough to hold me over and make it seem like people actually live in the house.

Happy crafting!