Letterboxer Badge- DIY Foam Stamps

Time for more craft projects on my long-abandoned blog… This project was inspired by pins on Pinterest, and we made these stamps as part of earning the Brownie Letterboxer badge this summer. Each girl made her own stamp as part of assembling her personal letterbox kit, and then together they made a troop stamp (using the lid of a jar of nuts- it was bigger at 3″ diameter) to put in the letterbox they made.

Supplies:         Supplies_web

– Bottlecaps, cleaned and dried. Repurpose plastic caps from milk jugs, juice bottles, and nut jars (watch for allergies on those- wash them well!)

– Wine corks

– Craft Foam (sheets to cut your own design, or pre-cut foam shapes)

– Hole Punches (craft punches will not accommodate foam)

– Glue Gun (under adult supervision)

– Stamp pads (dye-based ink works best as it dries quickly)


1)      Create your foam stamp shape by cutting out a design of your own or selecting a shape of pre-cut foam


Things to keep in mind-

–          Make sure your design remains within the dimension of your cap- foam that spills over will not take ink very well, and you won’t have the cap to apply force to stamp your image

–          Make your solid design more interesting by punching shapes into it, creating “negative space.” However, don’t punch so close to the edge that your design becomes “floppy”

–          Don’t use the glitter foam shapes! They don’t accept ink very well at all!

2)      Attach your design to the bottle cap, either by gluing with white school glue, or peeling off the adhesive backing


3)      Using the hot glue gun (CAUTION! Burn hazard), apply a dollop of glue in your cap, and attach the wine cork to create a base for your stamp. Allow to harden


4)      Try out your stamp! Pat your stamp on an ink pad, and stamp onto paper. Remember to clean your stamp between colors and when you are finished stamping


To Make a Personal Letterboxing Kit, you’ll need and ink pad (or a water-based marker) and a logbook to go with your stamp. Be sure to label your logbook with your real name or your trailname.


Working with 3-D Shapes: The Button Tree

Yes, I know- it’s just past Valentine’s Day, and maybe craft blogs are gearing up for spring and Easter. But here I am posting a tree craft that can be used as a Christmas tree ornament. I’ll add those tags to the post so when you’re hunting around for paper crafts in November, you can find it- and hopefully, I’ll remember to add a darker green variant of my printable.

I’ve previously posted 4 activities that can be used to earn the retired Numbers and Shapes Brownie try-it, but since I’m all about options, I’m going to post this project idea as well. It can actually be used for a couple of different try-it/badge requirements. For example, I planned this project for my girls to use for the Stitching It Together try-it. I used it as a substitute for the Button Collage activity. If that wasn’t enough, it’s a fun math activity for students who are learning about 3 dimensional shapes.

Here are the list of supplies I used to make my button tree ornament:

  • Square pyramid template or printable
  • Buttons- real or paper (this can be a good excuse to explore grandma’s button box, or use those spare buttons that you get with shirts)
  • Embroidery floss or thread
  • Pom-poms
  • Small thread spool- I found packages of these in the wooden shapes section of my local craft store

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to presume that you’ll be grabbing my printable freebie found at the end of this post. It’s given to you as a jpeg file, so all you’ll need to do is open it in your word processing or graphics program, and print it. I’ve included the tree and some paper buttons to add. I have left light fold lines for you to create all of the edges and flaps.

  Square pyramid shapes cut on the Cricut. Scored template ready to fold

Once you have your piece cut out, it will be simplest if you attach the buttons before you assemble the pyramid. For projects like this, I like the effect of the exposed thread tails so I tie them off on the right side of the project and trim.

Setting up button sites

Attach buttons using embroidery floss

Once your buttons are attached, you can assemble your pyramid by adhering the side tab. At this point, do not seal the bottom- it will be easier to pull the whole thing together later, attach the pom-pom, and create a secure hanger.

Adding the spool trunk needs the help of a diagram:

You’ll notice in my examples below that I used yarn for this prototype project. Upon reflection, I’m not going to recommend using yarn- go for a lighter weight fiber, such as embroidery floss or pearl cotton. You’ll end up with much less bulk on your needle and will have a much easier time attaching your pom-pom topper. However, the girls will have an easier time tying floss than a much thinner thread- thread is very slippery in small fingers!

I used a fairly long piece of fiber- long enough to run the height of the tree, allow for a decent hanger loop, and to secure the spool with a button. I took my threaded needle and went through the spool, through two button holes, and back through the spool. I stabbed a small hole in the square bottom of the tree structure and fed the needle and thread up through the center of the tree and out of the top.

To attach the pom-pom, I ran the needle right through the center of it- it will hold without the need for glue. Finally, Tie a knot at the end of the thread to make the hanger.

That’s it! For a troop meeting with younger girls, you’ll want extra hands on deck to help with threading needles, but older girls (Juniors and up) should be capable of doing this themselves. I found the sewing exercises have been wonderful with helping the girls become confident with tying knots!

OK, you’ve been waiting all post for it, so here’s my printable freebie for you! Please enjoy!

(Click on preview to download from 4Shared)

Badge on a Blog- Numbers and Shapes, Activity #4: Try Paper Piecing

If you scroll back into my blog history, I was a Hybrid Template designer not too long ago. What is a Hybrid Template Designer? Essentially, I drew shapes (squares, triangles, hexagons, etc) in Photoshop Elements and merged them into neat designs. Add some fun digital papers and print them out on your printer, or just take the outlines and print them to paper you already have in your stash.

I see the world as merged shapes. Something fun for a girl who liked math.

This may be why I enjoy paper piecing so much. It’s actually a lot of fun to transform those paper circles and squares into something cute- and it helps justify my punch purchases. However, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to buying punches. Like tools in Alton Brown’s kitchen (the Good Eats guy- the only uni-tasker in his kitchen is the fire extinguisher), my punches need to multi-task.

Which brings us to the latest activity for the Numbers and Shapes try-it- give it a go with paper piecing and punch art.

My girls LOVE my punch collection- they’d play with them for hours if I let them. So, I like to give them a purpose for the punches- this past meeting, it was making Valentines to be sent over to troops in Afghanistan. We also made adorable owl paper piecings!

The owls were a last minute addition to the programming. The Sunday before I was in the grocery store and I tripped over the February issue of Scrapbooks, Etc and this great card on the cover designed by Valerie Salmon:

I HAD to replicate  that owl, and immediately my mind was deconstructing all of the shapes involved. It was the perfect project for this try-it. I contacted Valerie, and she gave me permission to mention her work on my blog, and to break down the shape manipulation. Thanks. Valerie!! Go check out her blog– she has lots of paper piecing patterns to download and try!

So, let’s walk through the process on how you man make an owl out of a rectangle, an oval, a triangle, 2 flowers, 2 hearts, and 4 circles. By the way, this is a great project to do with paper scraps- a fun way to “Reduce Waste” for February’s Forever Green Project. See if you can make these only using paper scraps that you world normally toss in the garbage!

Here’s how you transform the rectangle into an owl body:

The rounded edges can be done either free handed, or with the help of a corner rounder- it really depends on how round you’d like his body to be.

Then, there are the pieces you need to trim:

Now that you have all of your pieces, it’s time to put them all together:

Finally, here are some real examples. My daughter’s is on the left. I gave them pre-cut pieces, but there was no adult assistance for the assembly- my Brownies did a great job! For those of you keeping score, the patterned paper is from the Love Notes Collection by Making Memories, and the various cardstocks (red embossed dots, pink glitz, ivory smoothie) are from Bazzill. My flower, heart, and circle punches are all from Marvy.

Manipulating basic shapes is a common tool for drawing as well. Check out these You Tube videos for drawing cartoon characters:

Drawing Phineas

Drawing Curious George

I think drawing becomes a lot less intimidating when you can see it broken down into simple components of circles, triangles, and squares.

Good luck with paper piecing! This makes 4 activities that would allow completion of the Try-it. However, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, so I’ll probably add an activity or two, just so you can mix it up a bit or have creative options for other projects. Enjoy!

Badge on a Blog- Numbers and Shapes, Activity #3: The Mobius Strip

This is actually a fun, quickie activity.

The Mobius Strip was named after German mathematician August F. Mobius.

Mobius Strip links:


Math Images- Mobius Strip

I read up on the Mobius Strip on Wikipedia, but it quickly got into advanced mathematics and my attention span went out the window. I can only imagine what would happen with 2nd and 3rd graders! Regardless, this activity is pretty neat- it’s a really good opportunity for the girls to make a hypothesis on what will happen before she takes scissors to paper. It’s a nice safe way to learn that it’s OK if an experiment doesn’t turn out the way you anticipate. Welcome to my world of laboratory science!!!

To do this activity, here are the supplies you need:

  • A sheet of patterned paper     You want to be able to tell the sides apart for this activity so if you use standard copy paper, decorate one side of it: stamp, draw a picture, what have you. I used patterned scrapbook paper because I have a ton of it!
  • Adhesive- tape, glue, dry adhesive- they all work for this
  • Scissors

You will want 3 strips of paper- I cut 3 1″ strips from my 12″x12″ sheet of paper. We’ll go through each strip one by one.

Strip #1

With strip #1, you will simply join the ends together- no twists. Just a loop of paper. Then cut the strip in half- what do you end up with?


With Strip #1, you end up with 2 paper rings.


With Strip #2, again you make a paper ring, but this time put a half-twist in the paper and attach the back side of the paper to the front. You can see in my example, the junction point is both pink and white. As in Strip #1, use your scissors to cut the loop in half. What is the result this time?


Unlike Strip #1, you end up with a single (albeit twisted) loop of paper! Kinda neat, eh?

Finally, with Strip #3, add a full twist to your paper, attaching front paper to front paper like you did with Strip #1. As with Strips #1 and #2, cut the strip in half. Don’t forget to try to predict the outcome before you cut!

As with Strip #1, you end up with 2 individual paper rings. However this time they are chained together!

(Junction point close-up)


Who would think that something as simple as twisting paper could lead to such different results? Feel free to make more paper strips and try other things- what happens with 1& 1/2 twists? What happens if you take Strips #2 & #3 and cut those rings in half again? Share your results with photos or videos!


And- don’t forget to recycle your paper when you’re done. It’s only fitting- according to Mathlinks, the universal recycling sign that you see on packaging and such is a Mobius Strip!

Happy Papercrafting!


Badge on a Blog- Activity #2a, Origami Fortune Teller Template

Hi, all!

Remember in my last post to stay tuned for a Fortune Teller Template freebie? Well, here it is!

(click on the preview to download from 4Shared)

I made a prototype of the template using Sugarplum Paperie’s “Every Day of the Year” Collection. With papers and embellishments in many colors of the rainbow, this kit may become a staple in my digi-hoarde.  I’m so happy with how the sample turned out! And Natalie was as well, she claimed it within minutes…


Hope you’re enjoying working with paper! Moving on to the Mobius Strip next!

Badge on a Blog: Numbers and Shapes, Activity #2

In the Try-It book for Brownies (now discontinued), activity #2 for the Numbers and Shapes try-it is trying origami, so I’m going to stick with that. I’ll included links to some origami websites, plus I’ll include pictures of some of the things that Natalie and I tried this evening.

Kitty Face

The example included in the book was for a kitty face- and indeed, it was super easy and a great starter project! Here are my photos as I tried it myself:

1) Start with a square of paper. If you’re a paper crafter like me, you’ll have no problem find a square of paper, or trimming one to fit. However, even if you’re not, your daughter can accomplish any of these activities with a sheet of printer paper. She can make an 8 1/2″ square following this diagram:

2) Take your square and fold along the diagonal to make a triangle

3) Next, turn up the open edge back on itself- I had the tip almost touch the first fold line

4) The final folds are to fold up the left and right edges of the triangle. Like the book example, I added eyes and mouth, and snipped a small triangle of cardstock for the nose (more use of shapes- yippee!)

Fortune Teller/ Cootie Catcher

This is popular paper-folding project- I remember making tons of these when I was Brownie/Junior-age. There’s a really good tutorial for this project:

Origami Fortune Teller

My daughter and I followed these instructions and we had our fortune tellers done in a matter of minutes. I may still make a hybrid template for this project- stay tuned!

Jumping Frog

The jumping frog tutorial can be found here:

Jumping Frog Tutorial

This one was fun, but a little harder since the folds are sometimes half here and half there. He still turned out cute- if a little chubby. One note on this project- my frog made from a starting 12″ square sheet of paper doesn’t jump. Perhaps a large sheet of paper makes him a little heavy- he does scoot however. To finish him off, I punched two eyes from white cardstock using my 5/8″ circle punch, and drew in pupils with a marker. I would have loved to find my google eyes, or a couple of black brads for pupils… But that’s just me being over the top!

Have fun with the art of Japanese paper folding! There are hundreds of origami sites out there if you want to try more challenging projects. If you have one of which you are a particular fan, please post a comment and share it with all of us!

Badge on a Blog: Numbers and Shapes, Activity #1

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you’ve had a chance to spend times with the ones you love.

Originally, I was planning to make posts during the holiday break so my girls could work on the Numbers and Shapes try-it. I figured it would be a welcome distraction. And then I came down with bronchitis and have spent a nice chunk of my vacation time on the couch. However, I am now on the mend and my creative juices have returned, so we’ll turn this into a January project.

Activity #1 for the Numbers and Shapes try-it is to play around with a tangram puzzle.

As it turns out, the tangram is a very old puzzle game from China, and sets were typically made of crafted wood or tile. The object of the puzzle is to use the seven shapes to create other figures. There are several places on the internet where you can find the figures, including:

Tangrams Puzzles

Tangrams at Logicville

To make things a little more fun and paper-crafty, I made a tangram template freebie for you. If you are knowledgeable in the ways of hybrid paper crafting and digital scrapbooking, I have a psd file of the template within the download. You can clip any digital paper you like to the shapes and print them out.

(Click on the preview to download template from 4Shared)

However, if you are unfamiliar with using digital templates and papers, I’ve also provided another couple of options. One, are pdf and jpg files for the cutting lines of the puzzle. Either of those files can be printed to regular paper (printed or solid) and you can just cut out the shapes. Print the lines to plain white paper, and you can even color the shapes in with crayons or markers.

The other option is that I’ve included a jpeg printable of the puzzle (or you can save this file directly)- you can bring it into a photo-editing or word-processing program and print it out on regular letter-sized paper. I used my retired “I <heart> Daisies” paper pack to fill in the pieces. I added a couple of extra paper strips to minimize wasted space- they can be used to make Mobius Strips that I’ll talk about in a later activity post for this try-it.

I’ll admit that I underestimated my tangram skills- these things can be tough! I’ll blame my difficulty on being dosed up on cough syrup…

So, my Brownie Girls, get a hold of one of these tangram puzzles and play for a bit. Try to solve a couple of the figures on the sites that I listed above, or just play around with the shapes and see what other kinds of figures that you can make with them, whether you use all seven pieces or not. Here are a few of the shapes I made with our set, made with lovely papers from The Comfort and Joy Collection by Sugarplum Paperie:

   Using all seven pieces

And then just playing around:

If you are part of my troop and will be working on completing this try-it from home, here’s what you need to do:

1) Play with the tangram puzzle in one form or another

2) Have mom or dad take a couple of photos of you doing the activity, and one or two of your creations

3) Post your photos to our troop’s Shutterfly page- I’ll be creating an album to hold the photos

4) Have fun! (Actually, this step is for everyone!)

Enjoy the freebie! I’m looking forward to posting another activity soon!

Happy Holidays!