Cacti and Succulents and Planters, Oh My!

Hello Faithful Readers!

I know it has been a while since my last post, but I have been very busy!  I actually do have a new project to show you all, but I have been hopelessly sick this past weekend with a terrible cold (my third in the past 5 weeks, working in a school is just horrible for the immune system!) and so I wasn’t able to get any nice photos taken.  But I can give you a hint, it has to do with one of my current favorite things, succulents!  I absolutely love succulents, and not only because they are the only plant I seem to be able to grow in my low-light NYC apartment.  So, as a thematic teaser about my newest project I wanted to share another beautifully designed project with all of you, something called Plant Pods.

Plant Pods 01

This is a neat project that I found through Kickstarter where the designer is trying to raise enough money to mass produce these beautiful plant pods so he can offer them at a more affordable price.  Personally I chose to back the project because I think they are gorgeous, but also completely out of my ability to fabricate.  When I see something beautifully designed I can usually assess pretty quickly if its something I could replicate or not, and this is definitely not something I could replicate.  So I decided to back the project on Kickstarter and if it is funded I’ll get three plant pods of my very own!

Plant Pods 02

If you are interested in learning more, check the project out on Kickstarter because you only have a few more days to back the project!

Plant Pods 03

Full disclosure – Yes, I am a backer of this project.  Yes, he is currently trying to raise the rest of the money so this project can be successfully funded.  Yes, I am hoping that at least one person who reads my blog might become a new backer.  But, there is absolutely no pressure from me for you to back this project on Kickstarter, I also wanted to share it because I just think these are really beautifully designed pieces and as my schedule gets busier and busier I am hoping that I can start to share some other designers work who’s pieces I think are really beautiful and that my readers may enjoy.  So, hopefully no one is too upset at this deviation from my standard post.  I promise we’ll be back to our somewhat sporadically scheduled programing as soon as I’m feeling better and can take some photos of my new project.

Happy Saturday Night all!  Allison

(All photos are from the Plant Pods Kickstarter website and are NOT my own photography.)

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Recycled Desk Unit

Hallo!  As promised, my 101st post is a tutorial for an awesome craft project which really fulfills the 3 Rs.  Not only is it something to Redecorate your home, but it is made from Recycled and Reused materials.  Actually, it is a project that I thought up for a contest that Earth 911 was having, to create a desk organizer out of recycled materials.  In the end I decided not to submit it, for various reasons, but now it is the perfect project to share with all of you AND I have photos of all the steps, a rarity around here, I know!   So, ta da, my recycled desk organizer:

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Final 01


Tin cans, plastic water bottles, scrap cardboard, scrap fabric and felt, wine corks, hot glue gun, glue sticks, scissors, xacto blade

Step 1: To create a nice fabric edge for each can, take a small piece of fabric and fold it over the top edge of each can, glueing it down on both sides.

Step 2: Cut a piece of felt that is the same height as the inside of the can, and long enough to wrap around the entire inside circumference.  Make sure you glue the first edge of the felt securely, and then you just need a few dots of glue along the way to adhere it to the inside of the can as you wrap it around.  You can also cut a round circle of felt for the inside bottom of the can, if you would like.

Step 3: Cut the ends off of the plastic water bottles, to serve as dishes for organizing smaller items.  To cover them with fabric first wrap a piece of fabric around the outside of the cut bottle, with the pattern facing in, and glue it onto the bottle in a tube.

Step 4: Then, trim the tube of fabric and fold it in on top of itself to cover the bottom of the bottle.  Glue the end of fabric into place.  (There is no right or wrong way to do this.)

Step 5: To cover the edge of the bottle take another scrap of material and glue it neatly 1/4 inch down into the inside of the bottle, and then fold it over to the outside.  Don’t worry about how this outside edge looks, it will be covered.

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Steps 1-5

Step 6: Once all the pieces are covered, arrange them into the configuration that you would like for your desk unit.  You can choose to use as many or as few cans and bottles as you want, it is entirely customizable.

Step 7: Using the scrap cardboard, trace the location of each cup piece onto the cardboard, so you have a footprint of the final unit.  Cut this footprint out of the cardboard.  (I made the mistake of squaring the shape off, thinking that I would make my final outer edges square, until I realized that would be much more difficult and really I want to wrap the corks around each shape individually.  So, I had to go in and cut around the footprint after I had already attached everything, which was much more difficult.  So take my advice, cut around the footprint completely at this step.)

Step 8: Glue the cans into place.  In order to have the tops of all of the cans line up, even if they are different heights, you will need to add pieces of cardboard to the underside of the shorter cans, like platform shoes.  The plastic bottles will need something more like stilts…

Step 9: Finish gluing all of the cans and bottles into place.  It helps to add a bit of hot glue in between each can as well, to make sure that they are attached securely to each other as well as to the bottom piece of cardboard.

Step 10: Start gluing on the corks, making sure to follow the top edge of the cans and bottles.  Start with this top row and glue on at least two corks.

Step 11: Add a second row of corks by gluing them end to end with the first row of corks.  You can also trim pieces of cork to wedge into any in between spaces you might have.

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Steps 6-14

Step 12: You have two options.  Option 1 is what I did, which is to add a full third row of corks and then add a few extra pieces of cardboard to the underside of your cans, so that the whole unit is now three corks high.  Option 2 is you could cut down this third row of corks to match the actual height of your desk unit.  Either way, add a third row of corks.

Step 13: Once you have your starter rows finished, keep adding corks around the entire unit.  It is now easier to add them from the bottom, because corks are all different heights and if the top row is a bit uneven it doesn’t matter, but if the bottom row is uneven then your desk unit might not sit properly on your desk, like a restaurant table with a wonky leg.  No one wants a wobbly desk organizer.

Step 14: Continue adding corks until you have covered all sides of your unit.  I designed mine as a directional unit, with a back which I chose not to cover in corks.  This is your choice.  I think a smaller 2 can unit would be cute, completely covered in corks like a fat number 8.  I think you could do 3 or 4 cans in a row like a caterpillar.  The options are endless, and up to you!the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Final 03

One reason I chose to use corks for the outside of this unit is because now not only do you have a place to organize pens and scissors, but you also have a built in message board where you can pin notes to yourself, or important business cards.  Anything small that you need to have at your fingertips can now be right there, attached to your pencil cup.

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Final 02

I’d love to hear if anyone tries to make a desktop unit of their own!  Enjoy, and happy 101st post to everyone!  Ciao, Allison

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Sing for Hope Piano on Location

Hola! Guess what?  This is my 100th post!  Wow, who would have imagined it.  I’m super excited to be posting these amazing photos of our piano on location around New York City as my 100th post.  Though to honor the true craft blog intentions of the 3 R’s, I promise to have a fun photo tutorial as my 101st post.  But for now, back to our piano project.  Here is a shot I love from the June 16th special day at Lincoln Center.  (I have been recently playing with this new iPhone app I discovered, Color Splash.)

Zipper8Lighting SFH Piano 1

Our piano was located out at the Queen’s Museum, directly across from the old World’s Fair Unisphere.  We had a home in a lovely little gazebo, which helped to protect our piano from the many rainy days during the two weeks it lived outside.  But the absolute most exciting thing that happened, even more exciting than seeing our piano at Lincoln Center, was that our piano made it into the New York Times article about the pianos project!!  There was an excellent photo of our piano both in the print edition and in an online slideshow on the Times website.  We were ecstatic, to say the least!

Zipper8Lighting SFH Piano 2

Zipper8Lighting SFH Piano 3

Here are a few photos that I took when we went to visit our piano on location.  There were a bunch of kids who were really enjoying it!  I also loved how the pink color really popped next to the lush green foliage, it made it especially easy to spot peeking out of the gazebo, even from far away.

Zipper8Lighting SFH Piano 04Zipper8Lighting SFH Piano 05

Next our piano traveled along with the other 87 pianos to Lincoln Center for one spectacular day of concerts and general piano fun.

SFHPiano Lincoln Center 7 SFHPiano Lincoln Center 8 SFHPiano Lincoln Center 2SFHPiano Lincoln Center 1 SFHPiano Lincoln Center 3

Seeing all 88 pianos together at Lincoln Center was truly magical, even if my ears were ringing for days with the sound of all those pianos being played at the same time.  Pix 11 News did an short news video about the special day, and the concert that was held at 7:08 pm, featuring all 88 pianos being played at the same time.  You can check it out on our website, in the Press section, and keep your eyes peeled for a great shot of our piano being played!

Sing for Hope Pianos - Lincoln Center

I hope you have enjoyed the first 100 posts, and cheers to a fantastic second 100!  Thanks for coming on the ride with me.

Ciao, Allison

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All Things Paper Book Release

Hola all!  Some very exciting things have been happening recently, and I’ll post more updates soon but for now I wanted to share an extremely exciting project that I’ve been working on for a while, just in secret.  I have a tutorial featured in my good friend Ann Martin’s new book called All Things Paper!  Inspired by her awesome blog, she has compiled and edited a beautiful paper craft book with 20 amazing never before seen projects.  Her book was released today, and you should be able to purchase it in local bookstores, or on  (In fact if you check out the Look Inside preview on Amazon you’ll see part of my tutorial…)  For my project I used a material that I am very fond of, recycled phone books!

A_Patrick Finished 04

Some of you may remember my phone book centerpiece design from a while ago, well that project actually came out of this book project.  I was playing around seeing what I could design, and that centerpiece was one of the things I made.  For Ann’s book I decided to create some simple little letter holders, using phone books, ribbon, a bit of scrap cardboard and some glue.  And I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out!

A_Patrick Finished 02

If you are interested in learning how I made them, you’ll have to purchase the book!  But don’t just buy it for my project, there are 19 other amazing projects to peruse as well.  I can’t wait to try a whole bunch of different projects in the book, but two particularly stood out.  The first is this AMAZING tote bag made from grocery bag handles!  It was designed and made by an awesome craft blogger and book writer Richela Fabian Morgan (her material of choice is duct tape, how awesome is that?!)


I am simply in awe.  Recycled, eco-friendly AND stylish.  It is the perfect project.  Not to mention that it combines paper craft and sewing, so it is the perfect project to undertake with my business partner and best friend Elizabeth.  Now my only problem is, my grocery store doesn’t use paper bags with handles…  Which makes me very sad.  I’ll have to look for some sort of ‘collect and swap’ website where people swap different recycled goods.  Maybe I can find people who would be willing to save bag handles to mail to me?  Who knows, the internet is a magical place.  Now tell me, doesn’t this photo make the bag look like so much more than a bunch of recycled handles?!  I think it is truly one of the most amazing recycling projects I’ve ever seen.

The other project I really want to try is this gorgeous Japanese mystery box.  When you lift the lid from the left side, you reveal the large center space.  But then when you lift the lid from the right side you get access to the two other small spaces on the ends.  Its like that toy with the wooden blocks and the ribbon where the pieces flipped back and forth in odd directions.  This project looks pretty complicated, but totally worth it in the end.  The tutorial is by Cecelia Louie and includes very clear instructions and photographs, so I bet I can figure it out without too much trouble.  (Well I bet I can understand what to do without too much trouble, actually doing it is another story…)  This project (and a few others in the book) have also made me realize that maybe I need a bone folder tool.  Does anyone use one?  Is it worth the purchase?


So if any of these projects have made you in the least excited, run right out and purchase Ann’s book!  Or head over to her website for a book giveaway and maybe you’ll win one for free.


Ciao, Allison

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Sing for Hope Piano!

It has been a while since I posted anything new, and that is because I’ve been crazy busy working on this new project!  (Psst…Here’s a sneak peak, keep reading for the full pics.)

SFHPiano Slider Pic

One of the great projects that happens around New York City over the summer is Sing for Hope’s piano project.  This is the third summer that they will be installing 88 pianos around the 5 boroughs for anyone (and everyone) to play and enjoy, from June 1st through June 16th.  Elizabeth and I first met the team at Sing for Hope when we constructed their gala centerpieces last October.  Fast forward a few months and we were able to collaborate on a Zipper8Lighting piano!  Sadly our piano does not light up, but that doesn’t mean we forgot everything that makes our lighting special.  Normally the artists responsible for each piano paint it in some what, but neither of us are painters so we knew we wanted to do something a bit different.  Cue our idea to paint the piano solid hot pink, and then cover it in black and white sea urchins created from drinking straws.  Here’s my process sketch from before the project started.

Pop-Up Piano Concept Sketch

Once it was time to begin, Elizabeth and I sanded and painted our piano with primer and then with a beautiful hot pink that we mixed ourselves.  An upright piano may not look that large, but after painting it with 5 coats let me tell you, it is bigger than it looks!

SFHPiano Process Collage 1

Finally after 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of pink and 1 coat of clear polyurethane to protect it from the elements, we were ready to start attaching our sea urchins.  (We had originally designed our straw sunbursts for an under-the-sea project, hence why we thought of them as sea urchins.)  Each sea urchin was constructed using black or white straws, of varying lengths and diameters.  I used small metal skimmers as a base, and then followed the same technique I learned from Mark Montano back with one of the very first lights I ever constructed.  Each straw gets bent in half and then the two ends are pushed through two different holes in the skimmer (or whatever mesh shape that you are using.)  Total we used approximately 61 sea urchins, and over 7000 straws!

SFHPiano Artistic

We had 3 different white straws, and 2 different black straws, ranging from full sized straws to small cocktail stirrers, and while most of the mesh skimmers we used were a standard small size, we did have a handful of larger skimmers to make really large sea urchins.  We debated how to attach the sea urchins, but in the end we decided to just go with glue.  For the urchins we could attach to flat surfaces we used E6000 which worked well, but had a set time of one hour.  So for the vertical surfaces we used a two part Epoxy Resin which had a set time of only 5 minutes.  After sanding down the surface where the glue would attach, we added glue to both the the piano and the sea urchin, and then placed it on the piano.  For the E6000 we used painters tape to hold them in place, but for the vertical surfaces we had to actually hold them on until the glue set…  This left us with a lot of time sitting and holding things onto a piano, so I had a lot of time to play around on my phone, resulting in a series of odd and artistic photos of our piano to post on our new Instagram account.  (Check us out under Zipper8Lighting!)  Here are two of my favorites, both artistic portraits of our piano shot through the tubes of the resin.

SFHPiano Artistic 2

And finally, after over 100 hours of work, our piano was finished!  We are both really pleased with the final product, I think it looks a bit like a trippy coral reef, personally…

SFHPiano Final 2

It was so exciting when it was finally time to sign our piano!  Elizabeth did an excellent job copying our logo onto the piano with sharpie.  The beautiful final touch to a wonderfully exciting project.

SFHPiano 7

Starting yesterday our piano is on view at the Queens Museum across from the Unisphere at the old World’s Fair site.  If you are in New York City over the next few weeks you should check it and all other 87 pianos out around the city!  Visit the Sing for Hope website for a full map with details about each artist and photos of the pianos.  I’ll be back to post some photos of our piano on location, as soon as I have a chance to make the trip.

Ciao, Allison

P.S. Here are a few more fun pics from the studio.  The project is co-sponsored by Chobani, so we decided to use some of their recycled yogurt cups for paint mixing!

SFHPiano Process Collage 2

We even decorated our corner of the studio!

SFHPiano Studio Collage 1

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Happy Spring!

“The spring came suddenly, bursting upon the world as a child bursts into a room, with a laugh and a shout and hands full of flowers.”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Zipper8Lighting Painted Rose Centerpiece 1

Well, spring hasn’t exactly burst upon the world here in NYC, it is 35 and windy today, but there are a few flowers beginning to poke their heads out in the park which gives me hope.  Since today is the official first day of spring I thought it was the perfect occasion to post a few photos of the new centerpieces I’ve been working on for Zipper 8 Lighting.  My most recent post was about the centerpieces Elizabeth and I did for the Sing for Hope Gala last October, and since then we’ve been really excited to design new centerpieces, with summer weddings in mind.

Zipper8Lighting Painted Rose Centerpiece 2

This first new design features two full roses and a rose bud, all of varying sizes and colors.  Each petal is cut out of heavy weight paper and then hand painted individually with watercolors.  The colors could obviously be designed to custom match someone’s color scheme, and there could be a bit of flexibility in rose sizing but only a bit because each rose is built around some sort of hollow shape allowing us to light them up from inside.

Zipper8Lighting Painted Rose Centerpiece 3

Our second design features three larger flowers constructed from hand dyed coffee filters.  Again there would be some flexibility when it came to color scheme and flower size, especially if someone was more interested in a different number of smaller or larger flowers.  I think a line of big poofs down the center of a long table would be pretty spectacular.  Or you could even hang them above the table for extra drama.

Zipper8Lighting Coffee Filter Flower Centerpiece 1Zipper8Lighting Coffee Filter Flower Centerpiece 2

The next planned photo shoot will involve mixing and matching different types of flowers, and showing them in place on a table as they would look for an actual event.  I think we are going to try a long runner as well, with the various different flowers intermixed down the length of the table.

Zipper8Lighting Coffee Filter Flower Centerpiece 4Zipper8Lighting Coffee Filter Flower Centerpiece 3

I’m super exited to see these on an actual table with votive candles and everything.  It will also be interesting to see the different amounts of light each flower gives off.  Hopefully I will have some of those photos to show you very soon!

Happy first day of Spring everyone, Allison

Update:  These are lit up by battery powered LED lights, so not only do you not need a power source, but the lights stay completely cool to the touch so there is no risk of fire (just don’t put them too close to any real candles!)

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Paper Flower Centerpieces – Sing for Hope Benefit Gala 2012

As I was strolling through Pinterest just now it occurred to me that I never posted photos from one of my latest projects, the glowing paper flower centerpieces that I designed, with my new business partner Elizabeth, for the 2012 Sing for Hope Benefit Gala at Guastavinos here in New York City.

the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012

Sing for Hope is a non-profit located here in New York which makes the arts accessible to all, and they have started a tradition of having an artist make a special custom centerpiece, instead of using traditional flowers.  The director of Sing for Hope spotted our work during our second sale, and immediately got in touch to see if we could somehow transform our Sheet Music Artichoke Pendant into a centerpiece.  I was instantly inspired, and had the idea to tweak the standard artichoke design by changing the size of the circles I used, and creating shapes that were more reminiscent of lotus flowers than artichokes.

the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012

Elizabeth and I worked together on the designs, and decided that each table should feature a trio of flowers, created using three sizes of lanterns and featuring repurposed old sheet music as the paper medium.  Each large 8 inch flower was essentially the same, though we added different types of leaves at the end which made them each unique.  The medium 6 inch flowers were pretty similar to the 8 inch ones, but had a few small tweaks to make them a bit more unique, we had maybe 4 different styles for those.  Then for the small 4 inch flowers we really played around with the concept and created as many different designs as we could.  Personally I found the 4 inch flowers the most fun to create because we were always trying new designs and there were no mistakes, just sometimes there were versions that ended up being unique one of a kind pieces.

the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012

We found a small string of LED lights powered by a battery pack so each centerpiece was connected to one strand of lights and glowed warmly on the tables.  With the purple table clothes they really stood out beautifully, especially after dinner when they changed the lights in the room to blue and purple hues.

the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012

Although we were commissioned to create centerpieces just for the upstairs dining tables, we ended up having extras so we set them up downstairs in the cocktail hour area that was later used for the after party.  It was this really fun and unexpected space where we were able to create different unforeseen clusters on small hightop tables or long coffee tables.  And the black tablecloths really offset the lanterns nicely.

the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012

This event also inspired us to really think about how we could use our designs in less traditional ways, and we are now totally excited to try and create centerpieces for other events, and possibly even weddings!  It has just been such a great chance to explore something neither of us ever thought about before.

the3Rsblog - Zipper 8 Lighting Paper Flower Centerpieces from Sing for Hope Gala 2012

I hope you like these centerpieces as much as we do!  All photos from the Gala (except the one with the very blue lighting which I snapped with my iPhone) were taken by Allan Zepeda an amazing wedding and event photographer.

Ciao!  Allison

Note: If you are interested in purchasing centerpieces like these for your own special event you can find them on my website, or you can contact us at

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