Lynne: In our last challenge for wooden spools I spent most of the two weeks trying to make a colored pencil stand that would:
1. hold my pencils where I could easily reach them
2. let me see the color quickly
3. keep the pencils from rolling to the floor and breaking
4. keep the point sharp
5. look cool doing all of the above.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that wooden spools were not the answer to the colored pencil problem and instead I made the embroidery floss project box.
During the big reveal of our wooden spool projects, I began to elaborate on my search for a pencil holder when Loryn brought up the website Apartment Therapy and showed me this plastic grass countertop drying rack. She thought that the drying rack could be something similar to what I had in mind. She was right, but I had no plastic grass and was unlikely to find any cheap enough anytime soon. I kept thinking of things that were thin, straight and pointed and came up with bamboo skewers. Loryn had a website for that idea also and showed me this bamboo skewer knife holder.
Bamboo skewers work because their points allow just enough room for the pencil point to slide in between each skewer even though the skewers are packed tightly at their base. The pencils do not have to be guided into a specific slot which can be aggravating; enough so, that you end up impatiently laying the pencils down where they roll to the floor breaking the lovely point you just so carefully shaped. Best of all, those lovely points are not marred when you push the pencils in among the skewers.
Excited about finally getting my dream pencil holder, I set about finding the container I needed to keep the skewers upright and packed tightly. I didn’t want something too small because there would not be enough room for the pencils and I did not want something too large because there is a limit to the number of bamboo skewers you want hanging around.
Cheri has a talent for arranging flowers and as a gift for my birthday, she had given me a bouquet in a rectangular glass vase. As a bonus, she painted a delicate tracery of lilies of the valley around the outside of the vase. I have used the vase again for other flower arrangements but at the moment it was standing empty in my cupboard. It looked to be the right size and I liked that it was not round because that meant no pencil would be in the middle surrounded by other pencils and out of my easy reach. The vase is shown in the photo below. I love the delicate flowers.
I found the bamboo skewers I wanted at the local farm store and bought 7 packages of 195 skewers each which turned out to be just enough. Sometimes, things just work out right for no good reason at all. The skewers were longer than the vase and I had to find some way to cut them all to the same length. I tried a miter box and handsaw but I could not keep the skewers bundled together enough to cut them without splintering the ends. I finally just grabbed my wire cutters and taking about 10 at a time I turned them point-side down in the vase and cut them even with the top of the vase. This allowed me to measure and cut at the same time.
There is one thing about using the wire cutters that I should mention. When you cut the pieces go flying everywhere. You end up pulling them out of your hair, picking them up off the floor and even out of the chandelier. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, but I need to sit down and think of a better way to cut bamboo skewers if I ever do this again.
While cutting I did have the foresight to place all the skewers with their points in the same direction in a box. I did not want to spend more time sorting through pointed sticks than I had to. When I was done I stacked the skewers into the vase as shown in the photo below.
Most of the points of my skewers are just a little above the rim of the vase. It has something to do with the curve on the inside of the bottom of the vase. I should go through and cut them all so they are just below the lip of the vase, but I have had my fill of flying bamboo.
This holds about 10 pencils and does all of the things I wanted it to do. I cannot call the project a cheap trick since the skewers were about $14.00 for all of them, but it is a good organizer and I am glad to have the pencil problem solved for now.
This view shows the dimensions of the vase from the top.