Idea #45: Fun with Fabric

Art quilting is a fun craft that can grow into a satisfying hobby. Here’s a quick how-to!

Materials: paper, fabric scraps, fusible webbing (&/or glue sticks, optional). Tools: pencil & colored pencils, fabric scissors, iron & nonstick mat, sewing machine (or can hand-stitch). Materials cost: $20 to $100 or more depending on your access to fabric scraps. Time: five or more hours of “painting” with fabric.

  1. Plan it out. Look at images, anything you like. Choose one idea. Play with sketching it out on blank or graph paper to grid out where colors will go. Pick out fabric scraps of various colors, I like batiks but it all works. A base piece of 14” square fabric makes a good background, your blank canvas for “painting” with fabric.

2. Set it up – Lay out your fabric palette for what you’ll need. Pre-cut small to medium chunks of fusible webbing and match to the colored fabric scraps for amounts of each color. Iron the webbing to the backs of each. Grab your pencil and trace the bits you want onto the paper portion of the webbing.

3. Cut & place – Use your fabric scissors to “fussy cut” along your pencil lines, leaving the paper of the fusible attached. Test-fit on your background, like puzzle pieces. Leaving background showing or overlapping pieces is fine. When you like where things are placed, peel off the paper and iron them down to glue in place.

4. Iron down – Fusible webbing will hold your design in place. Later, stitching everything down with batting will add thickness and dimension. It’s art, so anything goes. Hand-stitch shiny buttons or beads for even more “pop” if you like.

5. Art quilt example – This frog, tree and sunset landscape is my first art quilt, finished recently. Subject matter is up to you. Landscapes are popular, but you can create a space scene, a portrait, or something abstract; anything! Think of it as painting with fabric.

Bonus images – part of a triptych of outer space images I’m working on for a future wall hanging.

Special thanks to my wife, and to Jason Cromwell (who taught me how to do this), and also to Annie’s Quilt Shoppe.

See the display in at 3rd & Cota St. in Shelton, WA or visit for more crafty ideas to try at home!

Idea 44: News Cabin

Log Cabin

Once you’ve read your newspaper, grab scissors & glue for some fun with this!

Materials: newspaper, cardboard, glue & paint. Tools: scissors, ruler.

1. Roll newspaper logs. First, cut a stack of pages, about 1/8 of the way up from the bottom. Roll from the bottom up, run a stripe of glue along the top of each one as you go. After doing a couple of these it gets fast and easy. This cabin base is 4” square, inside of a 5” square of corrugated cardboard.

2. Assemble base. Measure an area and cut logs to size as you go, alternating the overlap at the corners and gluing each with a stripe of glue.

3. Assemble top. Start with a folded piece of thin cardboard from a food container, approx. 8” x 5” and fold the 8” side in half. Carefully cut and glue newspaper logs in place. Glue base and top together. Let dry.

4. Newspaper shingles. Cut 5/8” along the right edge of a several pages, and then cut shingles with the textured portion facing down. Glue on, working from bottom to top.

5. Cabin. Add a cardboard chimney and a cotton ball for smoke, and paint it if you like. This cabin fits right in to our Happy Tree Village display!

See the display in at 3rd & Cota St. in Shelton, WA or visit for more crafty ideas to try at home!

Bonus tips and photos:

Bonus photo – detail and paint: A few newspaper logs help to stabilize the cardboard for the chimney. Paint big areas first, and then go back for touch-ups on the second coat.

Bonus tip – bricks: If you cut up a colorful food box, you’ll have colorful bricks. Be sure to alternate their widths for the chimney, then glue them on to a pre-measured piece of cardboard.

Bonus tip – door knob & hinges: Cut a tiny slice of the stick from a Q-tip to create a doorknob to glue on. You can use cardboard or three wider slices for door hinges.

Bonus tip – mortar: Paint chimney mortar grey, right over the top of the bricks, before you paint the bricks red.

Bonus tip – window rounds: Use a coin to trace round shapes on cardboard, and then cut them out.

Idea 43: Happy Tree Transit Bus Stops

Happy Tree Transit Bus Stops
Next stop: No-Worries Lane & Art Getaway Avenue.

Crafty Time with Dave Idea 43: Bus Stops – Tutorial

Materials: clear plastic, flat plastic &/or cardboard, craft sticks, glue, masking tape and paint.

It’s a good idea to make a quick sketch of what you want to create, first.

1. Plan, measure, mark and cut. This bus is about 2” long, so each bus stop will need two clear sides 1 ¾” H x 1 ¼” deep, a back 1 ¾” H x 2” wide, a sidewalk base 3” wide x 2” deep and a roof 2” wide x 2” deep. Keep the fronts open to allow access for figures.

Holding parts for basecoats can get messy. Rubber gloves keep paint off your your fingers.

2. Pre-paint. Avoid getting paint on the clear pieces. Paint the sidewalk gray and white, the back in colors to match your buses and the roof. Use masking tape to paint straight lines. Paint a second coat also.

Using a brush for glue gives wonderful control. You might want to use disposable brushes, however.

3. Assemble. Once paint is dry, assemble by brushing glue along the edges. For benches, cut craft sticks or cardboard to 1 ½” long x ¼” wide, glue legs on and let dry, then paint the same color as the roof. Once dry, paint glue under leg edges and place carefully.

You don’t need to model every detail, just pick out a few highlights and focus on them.

4. Add details such garbage cans, newspaper racks, vending machines, shrubs and sculptures about 1/2”. Shown: color printouts are glued to material painted to match.


These bus stops integrate well with other buildings, figures and vehicles.

5. Enjoy! The Happy Tree Transit system now covers many destinations, with bus stops all over town!

See the display in at 3rd & Cota St. in Shelton, WA or visit for more crafty ideas to try at home!

Idea 42: Office Supply Store Penholder

Wouldn’t a cool penholder be fun to make, and nice to have? Let’s do this!

Tools: ruler & marker, scissors, paint & brushes, rubber band

Materials: Plastic containers & lids, white glue, sand, 3-4 toothpicks, bendy straw

Difficulty: easy

Cost: about $1 including paint and glue   Time: two to five hours (can vary)

1. Measure

Measure and mark a flat-bottomed plastic container using a rubber band, a ruler and a permanent marker. The low side will be 3.75” tall and the taller end will be 4 ½” tall. Carefully cut along the line.

2. Assemble

\Plastic lids with glue and sand form the base. The bendy straw will be a downspout. Cut down another plastic lid and support it with toothpicks for the awning. Glue everything together and add masking tape to hold it all in place. Set aside a full day to dry, then remove masking tape.

3. Prime

Examine the structure and make any changes now, for example adding the top portion of another container to the top. Mix white glue with white paint. Paint the entire structure, inside and out. Including the glue with the paint will help strengthen it.

4. Basecoat

Paint the building yellow, the awning blue or purple, and the roof black. Use washes, grays and earth tones to bring out the high and low parts of the sand for the street &/or sidewalk. Add a second coat. For windows, base coat in black, then add metallic or glitter paint. Add details of your choice.

5. Office Supply

Imagine shopping here for your school supplies!

What fresh ideas would you like to see next in Crafty Time? Visit for more photos and project ideas.  Please email your photos and feedback to or call 360-426-4412. Visit our office to see the display!

Idea 41: Hotel

Crafty Time

All ages how-to by Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

Let’s make a hotel

Happy Tree City is thriving with cars and people. A hotel is what we should scratch-build next!

Tools: ruler, pencil & markers, scissors, paintbrushes. Craft knife optional, use with care.

Materials: Cardboard, masking tape, school glue, paper sign designs, clear plastic sheets & tube, rubber bands, plastic canvas, clear packaging, toothpicks, bamboo skewers, craft foam sheet and acrylic paint.

1. Templates

Think of hotels you like, look at some photos and draw ideas. With a ruler, draw a template. From that, trace and cut cardboard. Make four walls.

2. Assemble

Glue together on a base (example is 5” square) and reinforce corners with bamboo skewers. Add masking tape until dry. Prime white.

3. Trim

Add rubber bands for floor divider trim detail. Glue them in place. Dry brush the exterior light gray, paint the trim light blue. Paint window frames dark gray.

4. Pool

Paint a 5” square base of corrugated cardboard white and set aside. Cut craft foam to 4 ¼” x 2” then draw a kidney-shaped pool on it and cut carefully, glue to base.

5. Fence

Align, mark and cut plastic canvas for fencing, about 1” tall. Paint it silver, along with six toothpicks the same height. Test fit. Glue around the outside edge. Paint bottom of pool metallic blue. Pour school glue to top edge of pool for water.

6. Test Fit

Whatever cars or other figures you will be using need to be the right size and scale. Here, the parking space is not quite long enough, and had to be adjusted by gluing on a stack of two craft sticks.

7. Mask

Test fit your cars first.

Above: removing masking tape to reveal parking lot stripes. For this effect, cut 1” masking tape down to ¼” widths, tape over the white, then paint black over the top. Test fit your cars first. The pool floaties are beads, the silver arch was part of a cottage cheese lid.

8. Glass

Use an old brush to paint glue on the inside of the structure.

Mark two sheet protectors using the width and length of the template from step one. You should have four clear rectangles. Use an old brush to paint glue on the inside of the structure. Place one at a time. Add the roof last.

9. Elevator

Add elevator occupants before gluing the lid. Yes, they’ll be stuck forever, hahaha!

Cut a clear tubular container to size. Paint the floor and lid black. Add occupants before gluing the lid. Paint doors for all floors silver, add black edging for detail. Paint bamboo skewers and toothpicks black for elevator guides & cables, and awning supports. Cut and fold thin cardboard for the awning.

10. Play

Unintentional selfie

Bring, paint or buy a few little figures, cars and maybe a helicopter. The Rogers & Rockwell Hotel is now open and ready for guests. Sound effects not included.

For more tips and scratch-building information (including the Happy Tree signs art featured here), email with your feedback. You may also visit for more tutorials and photos. Happy crafting!

Encore: Idea 16, Stores

dp.Stores.CraftyTime.33.20 – originally ran in the Aug. 13, 2020 edition of the Shelton-Mason County Journal. Reprinted 6/24/2021.

Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

Fun with Stores!

Happy Tree City needs downtown buildings. You’re never too old to dream stuff up, let’s make some!

Tools: ruler, compass & markers, scissors, paintbrushes.

Materials: Cardboard boxes, masking tape, school glue, ordinary sand, paper sign designs, thin clear plastic (from window envelopes), and acrylic paint.

1. Templates

Measure and cut a 6” cardboard square. Customize windows as you see fit to make a storefront template. Measure and cut ¾” wide x 1 ½” tall doors. Using your template, trace and cut as many walls as desired. Glue the walls to a 7” x 6” base allowing 1” sidewalk in front, and clamp with masking tape until dry. Glue doors on. Cut windows out &/or trace pencil lines using your template.

2. Awnings

Measure and cut three pieces of cardboard, 1 ½” wide x 2” tall. Fold each neatly in half and check the angle you want with a test fit on the building. Trace the support shape until it fits right, then use it as a template and mark and cut six of those. Turn the building on its back, storefront facing up, and glue the awnings in place, clamping with masking tape. Let dry.

3. Flock with sand

Cut a hole in the base large enough for your hand to reach in. Glue a 6” square for the roof, adjusting to fit. Trace the pencil lines of the windows, seams and edges with lines of glue. While the glue is wet, drop handfuls of sand onto the glue and gently shake off the excess. Let dry. This process is called flocking and it is a wonderfully easy and cheap way to add strength, texture and detail to fine scale models.

4. Paint and detail

To create the illusion of three buildings, paint each a different color, with black between. Paint the side and back windows silver, the doors brown, the sidewalk grey, the roof black. Paint silver dots for door handles. Use an old brush to paint glue to the inside edges of the windows, then place the clear plastic from the inside. Paint glue evenly across the front of each awning and place each sign.

5. Let’s go shopping!

Happy Tree City feels more complete with Toys-O-Rama, Grocery-Mart and the Happy Tree Times. But it needs more, so we will continue next week. Until then, keep crafting. You’re never too old!

Happy Tree Story Time: Business Briefs
A wave of reconstruction has followed the giant kraken attack of late last year. The Happy Tree Times, Toys-O-Rama and Grocery Mart have all reopened in the new Apple Street buildings. The Happy Tree Café, Super Duds Fashion and a Post Office in the Old Town buildings will be having an open house Friday from 11-1pm. Refreshments and live entertainment will be available.
–Happy Tree Times

For more tips and information (including the Happy Tree signs art featured here), please email with your feedback!

Idea 39: Paper sign

23.21.dp.paper sign.CraftyTime Idea 39

Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

Paper display sign

This nice sign is incredibly quick, easy and inexpensive to make.

Ages: All. Materials: two pieces of blank paper and a copy of the Shelton-Mason County Journal. Tools: scissors, glue stick. Difficulty: beginner. Cost: very low. Time: up to an hour, probably much less.

1. Cut

Stack two pieces of paper, fold in half and cut a swooping shape.

2. Separate

Pull the middle piece out, then glue along the outer fold edge. Press folds together.

3. Open

Unfold the sign structure. Adjust as needed.

4. Detail

Trim out some of your favorite elements from the Shelton-Mason County Journal &/or other sources. Glue down.

5. Sign

This sign features the two copies each of the Crafty Time heading, Fun Pages heading, Shelton-Mason County Journal flag and Belfair Herald flag. The four sides make it visible from any direction, 360 degrees.

Tour Happy Tree Village & learn how it is made! Visit or point your phone’s camera at the QR code here. Email questions & comments to or call 360-426-4412. See the display in the window at 227 W. Cota St. in downtown Shelton.

Idea 38: Pipe Cleaner Tree

crafty time tree.pierik.19.21 Idea 38

Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

Pipe cleaner tree

Save a bit of that Styrofoam and cardboard and try making this tree!

Ages: All. Materials: Long pipe cleaners, masking tape, glue, Styrofoam, cardboard, sand, cotton balls or other foliage, paint. Tools: Scissors, paintbrushes. Difficulty: easy. Cost: low. Time: one or more hours of fun!

1. Twist

Joggle several pipe cleaners to slightly different lengths. Twist them all together at the trunk, working to fewer for branches and roots.

2. Wrap

Now let’s make the bark of the tree. Wind strips of masking tape around the trunk and roots. A slight overlap is good and single layer is enough. Add knots and texture with your thumbnails.

3. Base

Break a roughly palm-sized hill of Styrofoam apart with your fingers, to the size desired. Wrap the roots over the top. Trace and cut cardboard and glue down. Brush glue over the top and dust with sand. Let dry. Paint the trunk, branches and roots brown, the base black, then greens. Let dry.

4. Foliage

Soak cotton balls in watered-down green paint, squeeze excess liquid. Let dry. Add glue to top of branches, pull cotton balls to desired shapes, glue on, paint with glue to strengthen. Let dry. Touch up paint to accent light and shadows.

5. Scenic tree

This inviting tree adds natural shape and color to any diorama. It’s also fairly durable for kids to play with.

What would you like to see next in Crafty Time? Visit for more photos and project ideas.  Please email your photos and feedback to or call 360-426-4412. Visit our office to see the display!

Idea 37: Tile Roof House

Meet the mayor
Happy Tree’s newly-elected mayor, Hector Bright is also keeper of Kraken Watch Lighthouse. A longtime philanthropist and something of a local hero, Mayor Bright was sworn into office Monday. “I thank everyone for your support. Let’s keep making Happy Tree the best little town it can be,” he said outside the newly constructed mayor’s house Thursday.
–Happy Tree Times

Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

House with tile roof

Houses in Happy Tree Village have a range of colors, styles and sizes just like in real life. Let’s play with making one with a tile roof!

Tools: ruler, scissors, old butter knife, paint brushes – and patience. Optional: tweezers.

Materials: Cardboard, white glue, bamboo skewers, clear plastic, flat toothpicks, milk pull, adding machine spool, baking soda, paint.

Difficulty: moderate

Cost: less than $1 including paint and glue   Time: three to five hours or more of fun!

1. Measure

Measure and mark cardboard. Base: 5” square. Walls: two are 4” square, two are 4” x 4” to 5” peaks at center. Cut and glue together at edges, leaving ½” of extra space at base. Use masking tape to hold in place until dry. Measure and cut a piece of corrugated cardboard 5” wide x 6” long for the next step.

2. Texture

For roof texture, carefully peel a layer of corrugated cardboard away. Next, use an old butter knife to add “tile” divots approx. ¼” apart. When complete, you should have two pieces, each 5” wide x 3” tall. Thinking about how rainwater flows, the length of the textured ribs flow from the roof peak down.

3. Assemble

Cut a bamboo skewer to 5”. Cut small “V” shapes in the peak tips of the roof points and glue the bamboo skewer across. Run glue along the tops of the walls and along the bamboo skewer, and place the roof pieces on top. Dust baking soda over glue to seal raw edges. When dry, brush off excess.

4. Detail

Cut single-ply cardboard into ½” strips and fold in half for the corner trims, and ¼” strips along the 1 ¾” floor divider line. Cut ½” clear plastic windows. Cut flat toothpicks for window frames. Cut a milk pull for round shapes above the doors and the round window. Paint 2-3 coats including touch-ups.

5. Tile Roof House

Of all the houses that have ever been, this is certainly one of them.  Just add your choice of cars and figures, and the stories you can imagine almost write themselves!

What would you like to see next in Crafty Time? Visit for more photos and project ideas.  Please email your photos and feedback to or call 360-426-4412. Visit our office to see the display!

Idea 36: Car Wash


Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

Car Wash

Previously we made a gas and service station. Our Happy Tree village could also use a car wash!

Tools: ruler, scissors, paint brushes, rubber band

Materials: Cardboard, white glue, masking tape, paint, craft sticks, straws, pipe cleaners, newspaper

Difficulty: moderate

Cost: less than $1 including paint and glue   Time: two to four hours or more of fun!

1. Base

Measure and mark cardboard. Base: 3” wide x 7” long with guide lines ¾” apart in middle and ¼” from outside edge. Roof: 3 ½” x 3”. Walls (2) 3” x 2 7/8”. Cut pieces. Work grooves along the ¾” middle lines. Measure 2 bamboo skewer sticks to 6” lengths and cut at angles for car wheel ramp conveyer-guides.  Glue in.

2. Top

For roof frame, work upside-down. Glue walls to roof. Cut 3 craft sticks to 2 ½” lengths and glue about ½” from roof, brace with rubber band until dry. Test fit height and width with a car to make sure it will fit through.

3. Apparatus

Cut and glue pipe cleaners for washers, bendy straws for blow-dryers and other elements to the sticks, allowing room for 1” wide vehicles to pass through the car wash. Use masking tape to hold parts in place until glue dries, and then carefully remove the tape. Paint the roof and asphalt black.

4. Details

Paint walls white. Cut straws to fit, cut along long edges and glue on. A milk pull and a short row of staples make roof vents. Create fun signs! Paper clips work great for pipes, beads for wash nozzles. Cut newspaper for wash drapes, paint. Flip and paint a small container for the water tank/pay station.

5. Car Wash

Imagine. Drive up, pay and go through. “Whoosh-whoosh-whoosh FFFFF!” Presto! Clean, dry car!

What fresh ideas would you like to see next in Crafty Time? Visit for more photos and project ideas.  Please email your photos and feedback to or call 360-426-4412. Visit our office to see the display!

“O’Saurus” expands
Happy Tree village is world HQ of Gas O’Saurus, previously Bob’s Mythic Monster. The existing fuel and full service station added a new automated car wash to their lineup. Friday at noon, Wash O’Saurus Rex will offer free balloons and bubble wand kits with every car wash in celebration of their grand opening.
–Happy Tree Times