All posts by annaslearnstuff

Annas Make a Guest Spot: Adam Saraceno

We’ve decided that Annas Make Stuff would be even more awesome if we talked about other people making stuff too! First up is Anna S’s big brother.

Name and occupation:
Adam Saraceno, Marketing Director and FULL TIME MAN. Seriously, check the website:
What got you into making things?
Definitely Jim Saraceno. He’s made all sorts of stuff – beer, wine, fly rods, furniture, a huge deal out of that time I got arrested for coating my entire high school in Vaseline… the dude doesn’t stop making stuff.
What are some of your favorite things that you’ve ever made/designed?
I built a concrete bar table with a welded metal base once. It was too heavy to move so I left it with a friend and built a new bar table out of pallet wood.
Recently I got a hold of about 20 discarded pallets and I’ve been making all sorts of stuff out of them – picture frames, a bed-side shelf, a necklace rack for my many necklaces, and a compost bin. Free wood excites me.
Who/what gives you inspiration for learning and making new stuff?
My biggest inspiration is the fact that most of the furniture and household items you buy at stores are crap. They’re bland-looking and poor-quality. When you make something it’s completely unique, like a snowflake, or in my case a snowflake-like object held together with staples and Guerrilla Glue. Also, Bob Ross.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Boeing 747 pilot.
What would you love to make next (whether or not it’s feasible to make next)?
I’d like to make a bed frame out of pallet wood. Also I’ve had my eye on taking a welding class at a local community college, so hopefully I’ll get into that a little more in the future.

Anna E. Makes a Tree Bench

While I love doing projects for my house, it’s much more fun to make them for my friends and family! My sister, Nina, and I have been talking about doing some kind of outdoor project for her yard for awhile. While we were talking on the phone, she showed me this picture on her Pinterest:

I really enjoyed the androgyny of this carpenter.

With my amazing internet detective skills, I found the project on the This Old House website.

Now, my process in woodworking projects is to read the instructions, get a vague understanding of how it works, and kind of just go from there.  First, I decided to build the bench out of 2x4s. While it wouldn’t be as sturdy as decking, it was a cheaper and more easily available option. And I knew that Nina would end up painting it anyways. So when figuring out how much wood to buy, the directions say to take the diameter of the tree, add 6-12 inches, divide by 1.75, and that would give you the length of the smallest board.

This led to my first mistake where I actually used the circumference, instead of the diameter. I ended up buying way too much wood, and this led to multiple recuts, but luckily, I had already cut the 30 degree angle on the other end. To make all the cuts, I used my miter saw. Without it, cutting all of those angles would be been almost impossible for me. If you want to do this project, I highly recommend it.

I wish I had more pictures of the process, but just imagine me cutting a crap ton of boards in my sister’s garage.

It was exactly like this.
It was exactly like this.

All in all, the project took me about five hours. The things I didn’t do were sand, paint, or dig out the soil under legs. If I could do it again, I would try and make it a little more sturdy. I ended up not buying enough carriage bolts, so I instead attached the legs with screws. I’ll have to end up adding more more pieces of wood for support. 

photo 2 photo 1

Hooray for making things! I’ll update with new pictures after it gets painted.

Anna S. Makes a Zumba Sock Monkey

Hey there! Anna S. here. So, my super awesome mom is obsessed with a few things. In no particular order, they are: wine, chocolate, Zumba, vodka, sock monkeys, and crossword puzzles. So for her birthday, I decided to take on two of these obsessions, which ended up being Zumba and sock monkeys.

I couldn’t remember the last time I sewed anything. Although I do remember a brief cross stitching phase when I was younger, so I predicted it would end up looking like a 4-year-old made it. But I found a pattern, bought supplies (spending way too long picking between all of the patterned socks), and started working. For about 30 seconds I considered buying a sewing machine, but the non-idiot part of my brain reminded me that just because I try to sew a sock monkey doesn’t mean that I’m going to start regularly embarking on sewing adventures.

Step one was to draw out and pin all of the places where I had to stitch and cut.

Now whenever I see socks, all I’ll see is sock monkey part outlines.

It definitely would have been easier and higher quality with a sewing machine, but I liked to tell myself that amateur, low-quality hand stitching would give the sock monkey more character.

After I finished sewing, I got to cut out all the monkey parts and turn them inside out… which actually looks kind of creepy.

Wait, you’re not going to shove poly-fill stuffing in that monkey’s crotch hole, are you?? Oh the humanity! Er… sock-manity! Uh… sock-monkeyty! Okay, moving on…

Next it was time to stuff the empty body and appendages. Luckily, we have a telescoping bear claw back scratcher that always sits on our coffee table, which is perfect for shoving stuffing into narrow monkey tubes. Yep, I said narrow monkey tubes. Props to my wifeyfriend for helping with this part. Monkey tubes.

After I shoved lots of cotton wads up the monkey’s crotch, I stitched the crotch shut (so barbaric!). Then I made eyes out of felt and buttons. And a must say, a sock monkey without arms, a mouth, and a tail is actually kind of adorable.

If I had 6 more sock monkey legs, I’d make this into a socktopus.

Next came the arms, tail, and mouth, which I’m still not convinced are attached correctly (You hear that mom? Don’t drag the sock monkey around by its arms, tail, or mouth.).

Then the real magic happened. I used ribbon and tiny bells to sew some Zumba bell bracelets, just like my mom wears to Zumba, because you can’t get rid of the jiggle without any jingle! Okay, you caught me. I’m drinking wine while blogging.

I also bought a doll shirt and free-handed the Zumba logo with acrylic and fabric paint. Luckily the Zumba logo looks like a child drew it, so it was right on my level.

Don’t be surprised when my mom thinks it’s funny to make the tail look like the monkey’s wiener.

Special thanks to Anna V, who has all of the creative visions that I carry out.

Next up? Glove chipmunk, duh!

Hi, we’re Annas!

Hi soon-to-be-faithful readers! We’re Anna S and Anna E, super awesome friends since 2003. We first met when Anna S was in The Vagina Monologues and Anna E was the stage manager, which of course is a recipe for a fantastic friendship. Anna E even officiated Anna S’s wedding (to another Anna– Anna V., who will sometimes join us in our endeavor to make things). We’re both graduates of the HCI/d master’s program at Indiana University, and we’re now both User Experience Designers in Indianapolis. In fact, we live 6 blocks away from each other. Basically, we’re morphing into one person. One perfect Anna.

Anyway, we decided to embark on an endeavor to learn and make stuff so we could have some fun and fulfilling stuff to do outside of work. Here’s a little more about us and why we’re doing this:

Anna E

Twitter: @annaeaglin | Pinterest: @ameaglin | LinkedIn
Why did you want to start the Annas Make Stuff initiative? I love making things. That’s why I enjoy being a designer, but I really get a lot of happiness by seeing the result of what I’ve done. I started doing basic woodworking about seven years ago when I got out of college. I had so much free time, and I felt like I was wasting it.
What are some of your favorite things that you’ve ever made/designed? I made a patio table that has build in coolers for drinks! The plans are here.
It was a hugely ambitious project for me because I’ve never made anything that big or complex. I also learned how to use a Kreg Jig, which has totally changed the way I make things (for the better!). And I love having it, and that I didn’t buy it at a store. With woodworking, even the simplest projects look really impressive – I also do it for the compliments.
Super awesome table
Who/what gives you inspiration for learning and making new stuff?  I’m constantly inspired by Pinterest, and Instructables. I love that people take the time to document and take pictures of their process so someone else can do the same. I wish I was a better contributor.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was little I wanted to be an actress, but the reason I wanted that was so I could hang out with the people on my favorite TV shows. Really, I just wanted to live in fantasy worlds and be really important.
If you could choose one of the things you’ve pinned on Pinterest to make, what would it be? My goal for this year was get better at understand electronics and arduino. I haven’t found the specific project that I wanted to make, but I’d like to be able to do something electrical and not kill myself. I believe that making/fixing/do projects is all about confidence. There are enough resources available to us now that we really can tackle any project. I once installed a toilet with help from Youtube.

Anna S

Twitter: @anna_saraceno | Pinterest: @annaesaraceno | LinkedIn
Why did you want to start the Annas Make Stuff initiative? I always see cool things that people on the intarwebz are making and designing, and I thought it would be good for my general happiness to start learning and making things outside of work. Basically, I wanted to go from “Aw man, I wish I could make stuff like that” to “Dude! Check out what I made!”
What are some of your favorite things that you’ve ever made/designed? Three things stand out:
  • When I was about 6, I made a fake lunch box for my dad out of popsicle sticks and construction paper. I remember being super proud of it.  I thought it was super cool that it had a flap you could lift to reveal the contents of the lunch box (an apple and coffee– lunch of champions).
  • I also felt super awesome when I designed and coded my online portfolio, since I’d never done so before. I felt like the tone and visual design really reflected who I was as a designer, and with all of the coding skills I taught myself, I no longer felt confined to what I could do in web design programs and WYSIWYG editors.
  • My dad and I built a wooden wine rack (similar plan is here). I definitely couldn’t have done it on my own, but it was awesome to use different tools and see it all come together.
Who/what gives you inspiration for learning and making new stuff?  My brother and father are both super handy and have made (and fixed!) some impressive stuff. My go-to design sites are Smashing Magazine, Yanko Design, and Bokardo.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? I was pretty fickle from year to year, but the ones that stick out are fashion designer and broadcast journalist. That may be similar to young Anna E’s desire to live in fantasy worlds and be really important!
If you could choose one of the things you’ve pinned on Pinterest to make, what would it be? I’m dying to do this project to make letters out of wood pallets. But Anna E really needs to buy me a table saw for that to happen.
And that’s it for intros! Stay tuned as we go forth into the world of making things, and don’t be surprised if we end up on Pinterest Fail.