10 September 2011

the wee lebowski

The only personal outdoor space in our rented apartment is a patio measuring about 15m by 2m. So narrow that we can hardly fit a table and chair on it, and we certainly can't hoola hoop. Lined on one side with glass windows and on the other with glass balcony panels, we're hesitant even to play bat-and-ball games. About a year ago, a dear friend pointed out that our patio's not much use for, well... anything. Except perhaps a bowling alley.

I must've mumbled something about going to a toy shop to buy some skittles and, being the good thrifty Doric quine that she is, my friend choked on her coffee and told me to wise up and use plastic bottles full of water. She's clever and imaginative and... in Scotland. My friends: I miss them.

Anyway, I'd quite forgotten all about her suggestion until I saw this post by minieco about making ink from old felt tip pens. Coincidentally The Boss had, just the same week, sheepishly coveted some grossly cheap-and-nasty plastic skittles in the supermarket. So I figured that with a bit of judicious bottled drink slurping, we could make coloured bowling pins for (almost) nothing.

Now, minieco's tutorials are always a gauzy haze of rainbow-coloured perfection (just look at those pictures; amazing) and my life is very far removed from that. But here is my haphazard version. The low effort:high fun ratio with this project makes it well worth a try (particularly if you have a hopeless, bowling-alley-shaped patio).

cut off labels and fill with water

dig out any and all scratchy or dried up felt-tip pens and drop in (de-lidded)

the motley crew

the following morning (remove pens with chopsticks!)

tape up the lids with electrical tape

find a ball


  1. Cheers BC, the most pleasing thing about this is that there's no complicated stuff! I like crafts like that. But The Boss brought up and interesting point just before we went outside to play our inaugural game of upcycled skittles; she said "But Mister Maker doesn't do crafts for outside". I'm slightly disappointed because she didn't add "...and he's also a total wally". But good point I thought, take note BBC.

  2. fantastic! love the way you think!and i like your photos, cute!

  3. what a fantastically cool idea! I'm going to try this with my son :)

  4. Cheers Lori ann, and have fun Amelia - at last something to do with those tubs of old pens (and an actual real reason to chuck 'em all out afterwards!).

  5. Hmmm we go through felt pens like nothing on earth. Mainly because Rufie is such a wee monster that he bashes up the tips long before the ink has run out. We will be doing this but it might take us a while to save enough little plastic bottles. Thanks for this. Pretty.

  6. Oh look - the time of my comment comes up at what must be your time. It certainly isn't mine - it's still the 11th here!

  7. Have just been to look at the original post on minieco. I have inks down on my list for next time I go to Hobbycraft for some projects I want to do with the boys. This will do just as will and will save a huge amount of money. Yes, a huge amount! If it means I don't have to actually go to Hobbycraft then I won't be tempted to buy bags full of stuff. I seriously LOVE that place.

  8. Hobbycraft is a shocker that way isn't it - it sucks you in! I hope your inks turn out nice and bright - I was surprised that not much happened initially, the pens definitely need to be left overnight, and to make nice strong ink, probably just a very small amount of water (our skittles were very dilute).

  9. This post brought a whole stack of childhood memories flooding back....one in particular was not so pleasant.

    I recall doing this but in a large bucket of water at school holding the innards of the felt tip in the water and watching, intrigues as huge swirls of colour emerged.

    This was the good bit.

    The bad bit was that apparently a dog came along and drank the water and got very sick...and of course the worst bit - I got into big trouble.

    If I recall correctly I was no more than six at the time, but the sight of your felt pens in water has shown that there really is such a thing as an indelible marker in our minds.

    Waving & smiling from across the seas.

  10. Uh-oh... Cautionary tale there from Felicity!!! PAY ATTENTION. Thanks for stopping by some of my stories Felicity, nice to hear from you and sorry for dredging up that scarring memory! (I hope the dog was OK....)


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