Pinterest stress sufferers, rejoice! The projects in Mike Adamick's new craft collection, Dad's Book of Awesome Projects, aren't designed for experts -- just families who want some good,
clean possibly quite messy fun.
Adamick, a thoughtful blogger and devoted dad to his daughter, Emmeline, shares tutorials for crafts ranging from the relatively easy (homemade Play-Doh) to the more ambitious (a backyard swing set). His inspiration? As he writes in the book: "I'm just some stay-at-home dad who became obsessed and overjoyed at the prospect of working with my daughter to make our own fun around the house."
Here are two projects from the book that we look forward to trying ourselves. And if you can't get to them this weekend, don't worry -- you have the whole summer ahead of you!
Comic Book Shoes
Here’s What You Need:
- Old leather shoes -- patent leather works best for smooth surfaces (you can also find a really cheap, new pair at discount shoe retailers).
- Comic books
- Mod Podge glossy glue
- Tools -- Art paintbrush, scissors
Here’s What You Do:
- Round up your favorite comic books. Hmm, let me take that back. Maybe not your favorite. That first edition Superman could make for some pretty cool albeit ridiculously pricey kids’ shoes. Scratch that. Round up some old comic books and start cutting. Cut out small characters, cool drawings, all the POW!s and KaBLAM!s and whatever else you want. I’m particularly fond of inserting non sequiturs, like a dialogue bubble that says, “Ow! My arm!” or “Thankfully I’m not melting in the firewalls.” In the books, in context, they make sense. On the shoes, they are a riot. The point is, cut out a lot of snippets and words and small characters that won’t get lost or won’t, conversely, take over (looking at you, Wolverine). Make sure a lot of them have straight bottoms or straight tops. You’ll need these to glue on where the shoe leather meets the soles.
- Once you have a sufficient amount of pieces, large and small, start sort of mapping them out on the shoe. You don’t have to be precise; just make sure that really cool cut-out of Spiderman, say, will work on the toe or the heel or the side -- wherever. Once you have a rough plan in mind, you can go to the next step. But if you find you need more pieces, keep cutting until satisfied. Kids love to cut out the pieces.
- Glue on the pieces with Mod Podge. I like to put a light coat on the shoe, something that gets tacky pretty quickly. Place cut-out pieces on the leather, starting at the edge of the sole, using pieces that have flat bottoms. Go around the whole thing. Now, go around the tops of the shoes with pieces that have flat tops. When finished, you should have a band of visible leather between the top and bottom. Start filling that in with pieces. I like to save larger pieces for this; action pieces with Wonder Woman or Superman kicking ass work exceptionally well.
- Don’t be afraid to get messy. You can use your fingers to smooth pieces out or hold them in place. Don’t worry if some of the paper bends or folds. Just add more Mod Podge and all your problems will be solved. The glue will help soften the paper for bends and help keep it down as well. A few seconds of firm pressing seems to keep bendy pieces in place.
- Once you’ve slathered up the shoe and filled up every spare inch with comics, lightly brush the whole shoe with a coat of Mod Podge. Then, wait an hour or so and do it again. It will make sure everything stays on just right and you’ll get a high-gloss sheen that looks professional.
- Go find your own shoes and repeat.
Don’t be afraid to overlap pieces. If you need to fill a gap, just add some more Mod Podge and cut out a piece to fit. You’ll notice that by the second shoe, you’re a real pro at this. This project was so much fun and so easy that we started making them as gifts for friends.
Next: Homemade Ice Cream
Homemade Ice Cream
Here’s What You Need:
- 1/2 cup whole milk (Half and half is best if you have it.)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 capful vanilla flavoring (or your favorite)
- Food coloring
- 2 Ziploc bags -- one sandwich size and one freezer bag in gallon or two-gallon size
- Ice -- lots!
- Salt -- lots!
- 1 dish towel
Here’s What You Do:
- Mix the milk, sugar, flavoring, and food coloring in the small Ziploc bag and seal with as little air as possible in bag. Seriously, you are almost done. It’s that simple. You’ve already done the hard part. Hope you’re not too exhausted.
- Fill the big Ziploc bag with ice and salt. The more the merrier.
- Put the small bag in the large bag, seal, and then start shaking like you mean it. This is where the dish towel comes into play, as your hands will get pretty cold. Try leaving a bit of air in the big bag before you seal it, so that the ice and salt can move around and coat the smaller bag inside. If you want to let the ice rest on the small bag for a few minutes, go for it. But don’t give up shaking altogether.
- After about ten minutes, take out the small bag and ... enjoy. You’re done. That’s it. Kitchen magician, that’s what you are. Or at least what the kids will think anyway: “My dad, the Harry Potter of the kitchen.” Every dude’s dream.
- Some people like to rinse off the small bag first, and sure, if you hate childhood, feel free to do it that way. Others like to eat it straight from the small bag, as you get little bits of salt with every taste. The sweet-salty thing will send you into fits of nostalgic bliss.
￼That's the basic recipe, but you can tinker with the milk or ice cream before you put it in the bag. For instance, instead of adding a capful of flavor, try simmering ginger or cinnamon sticks with the milk over the stove for about ten minutes. Then strain, cool and use that milk to make the ice cream. What about orange cardamom? Simmer milk with orange peel and the spice for ten minutes ... mmm. You can also alter the sugar amount to make it less cloying, although more sugar means a smoother texture. Have fun with it and experiment with a lot of batches. You can't really go wrong.
Excerpted from DAD'S BOOK OF AWESOME PROJECTS: From Stilts and Super-Hero Capes to Tinker Boxes and Seesaws, 25+ Fun Do-It-Yourself Projects for Families by Mike Adamick, published by Adams Media.