Tag Archives: organize

Colored Pencil Stand

Colored Pencil Holder
My pencils safe from harm.

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.

Colored Pencil Vase
The empty flower vase that Cheri painted for me.

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.

Colored Pencil Vase
The vase filled with bamboo skewers.
Bamboo Skewer Color Pencil Holder
Top view of the vase.

This view shows the dimensions of the vase from the top.

OK Corral for Markers

Marker holder
From electronics charger to marker holder

I’m still up to my ears in markers. It turns out that there are all different kinds and I want to try them all. These are permanent markers and I use them a lot with colored pencils. I like to lay down the broad areas with the markers and shade with the pencils.

I was having a hard time finding a suitable place to put them while I was working. The rose bowl vase and BBs work with the longer watercolor markers but the shorter markers are swallowed whole by the vase. Not to mention that I would have to go buy more BBs and that doesn’t fit in with my ‘make do’ doctrine.

I found this charging dock at that great garage sale Cheri and I went to last week. I’ve always wanted one of these for my electronics, but it turns out that nothing I have now really fits very well. I think things are slimmer now, but larger overall.

Since I wasn’t using it for charging, the dock was sitting on my table until I could decide what to do with it. I needed to shift the markers from the side table next to my recliner to the large table in my studio and I shoved them in the dock for temporary transportation. And voila, marker holder extraordinaire! I am able to see the color of the markers and it is easy to take them out and put them back in. The cord port in the back holds the pens I am using the most at the moment and there is still room left to park my phone while I am listening to an audio book.

Back view of the dock charger
The cord corral corrals my most used pens.

I always love those ‘aha moments.’ It’s great how things work some time and it’s even more fun to never know when an idea will come along.


Confessions of a Rock Collector

Rock collection
Rock collection
















I am a collector, and when I say collector, I mean collector. I love to collect things, such as rulers, hand mirrors, pins, old rusty latches, skeleton keys and rocks. You might laugh at the rock part, but that is truly the one item I have collected my whole life. I don’t know what clicks in a person to make them look at a rock and say “I really love that rock, that is one of the coolest, prettiest, loveliest, most interesting rock I have ever seen”. Since my very first rock I was hooked. I can look into a pile of rocks and find the one I really want, it is almost like it speaks to me.

In my elementary science class I had to do a rock collection, and I thought to myself, I have this one in the bag, or so I thought. It turns out that my teacher did not want to see my pretty rocks, he wanted to know the geological names of them. Talk about disappointment, I really thought I had found a kindred spirit with my rock mania. And really, I don’t care which part of the earth they came from.

I have since found a few people that share my rock fondness, but I do believe that we really are a rare breed. I thought maybe I would take a photo to show how I have displayed some of my prized possessions. So, feast your eyes, my fellow rock hounds.


Rose Bowl Vase and BBs

Rose vase and bbs
Rose bowl vase and BBs

I have been working a lot with markers lately and have had them turn up everywhere. I’ve found them embedded in my recliner, strewn across my studio table and in hiding in my pockets. I knew I wanted something that would let me flare the markers outwards so I could see the colors and get to them easily.

After a trip to my china cabinet, I came back with this rose bowl vase. It worked somewhat but I needed something in the bottom to raise the markers higher in the vase. I remembered the BBs I used once for stuffing in a bookmark and poured them very carefully into the glass vase. I did it carefully because glass is one of those things that will surprise you with its strength and with its weaknesses and BBs are heavy for their size.The BBs weight turned out to be serendipitous as that weight keeps the vase from tipping and sliding.

Anything that has the relative weight of the BBs can be used instead of the BBs. Aquarium gravel would look good and you could match colors if you wished.

I am pleased too that the markers are really pretty and look as if they were a bouquet of flowers in the center of my table.


Fabric Gluttony

Fabric gluttony
Fabric gluttony

I spent my Saturday organizing my fabric (I just got married, and the entire house is getting reorganized to make room for my husband). I was surprised that it filled 20 boxes. This isn’t a fabric stash, or a collection, it’s fabric gluttony!

About 80% of it is vintage, from garage sales and auctions over the last nine years. There is a box of feedsacks, several boxes of vintage cotton prints, mod 60s canvas, barkcloth, and one box of silk, velvet, and lace. A big part of it came from one sale. Cheri called me on Saturday morning, and said “Estate sale. Fabric. GO NOW.”

When Cheri says that, you listen! It was the estate of a seamstress and milliner. Table after table of beautiful Scottish woolens and retro cotton prints! I spent every dollar I had, filled four boxes, and nearly doubled my collection.

Now that the fabric is sorted, it will be stored in an upstairs closet until I decide where my new craft area will go. It is currently in banker boxes, but they aren’t acid free, so they are a temporary storage solution. I will probably regret the number of boxes as I carry them upstairs! But, now that our only local fabric store has closed, I (and the rest of my crafty family!) will be glad that I have it! Fabric gluttony is a sin I can live with.