Sunday, February 12, 2012


This was one of my Christmas presents to my husband, though he got it a bit late because I didn't have a chance to paint it before we went out of town for the holiday.  It's a mancala set made entirely in his favorite color, which is obviously blue. The rules for the game can be found here.  We usually start the game with four stones in each pit.

I just happened to notice the blue glass counters at the dollar store, and I thought they'd be nice to play this game with, but that meant that I had to find something to use as a board.  I spotted some cheap ice cube trays on another aisle, but the problem with that was that it would make a game with too many pits!  I ended up sawing an ice cube tray in half with the miniature saw on my keychain multi-tool, which I don't particularly recommend--it was quite a lot of work for what I was trying to achieve. Anyway, once I had cut out the center two compartments, I managed to glue the pieces back together--the underside of the join is strengthened with scraps of plastic from the section I had removed. Oh, and lots of good, strong glue.  The large scoring pits are made from yogurt containers I had been keeping with my craft supplies.  It turned out to be good that those aren't attached, since we can easily swap the ice cube tray with an uncut one for a variation of the game.

While I don't recommend sawing ice cube trays with miniature tools, I do recommend the game mancala.  It can be inexpensive to buy, if you can find it; I used to have a purchased set that cost about two dollars, which is what I paid for a bag of glass counters and a pair of ice cube trays. The last time I looked for it in stores, though, I couldn't find it. You can also make a board out of an egg carton, but I chose the ice cube tray because I wanted it to last longer. Almost any small item, such as dry beans, would work for the stones, if you want to try it out with stuff that you have lying around and aren't sure that you need a permanent set.  Everyone I've ever seen play it was hooked after a game or two, though!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Example Invention--Yarn Bookshelf

Well, this new blog looks a little blank with no entries, so I'm posting a picture of my famous yarn bookshelf.  This was the result of my long-ago attempt to stuff about four hundred books into half of a dorm room; obviously I ran out of shelf space long before I had placed all the books. One of my creative solutions was to turn the two towel racks over the foot of my bed into another shelf.  Since they weren't wide enough to hold books on their own, I rigged up a sort of yarn net to hold the books in place while the bottom towel rack supported most of the weight. The mental process went something like the following: "I need something to hold books. What do I have that holds things?  I have a lot of yarn. How can I make yarn hold books?"  A simple chain stitch and a little strategy resulted in this.  My roommate was pretty sure that it would fall right down on top of me, but it didn't.  The whole construction lasted quite well until I had to move out of the room, and then I had to cut it up with scissors to leave the towel racks in their original condition.  This photo and the memory remain.

Anyway, this blog is for all the random, crazy, creative things that I want to share.   Stay tuned for all sorts of surprises!