Constitutionally Modern DIY

Modern, funky craft/DIY creations. Good for gifts or yourself.

Subscribe to my RSS feed

Making things. Affordable and accomplishable things.

Suitable for amateurs, average Janes/Joes.**

**Particularly useful for urbanites lacking power tools or even a kitchen table.

Whenever I goshdarn can. Lay off me.

Because looking at other people's ideas is awesome fodder for my noggin so shouldn't I share a decent idea that someone else can make perfect? Send me a pic if you make something similar to what I post!

I am Lynn. I'm an urban planner by training, and a maker of random items by vocational calling. I do my projects in my apartment in Brooklyn, or on the stoop or roof. If you see a 5' 3 7/8" female breaking concrete blocks out on your street, you probably live on my block.


Additional pages

Contact me

Posts I like

More liked posts

Tag Results

84 posts tagged DIY

The Floating World: Japanese wisdom written on a mirror…$30

Summer break is over and DIYs are back!  Kicking it off with a doozy: some ancient Japanese wisdom etched onto a mirror.

Asai Ryōi, a 17th century Japanese writer, explained the time’s prevailing obsession with impermanence and fleeting beauty with the following:

Living only for the moment, turning our attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maples; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; caring not a whit for the poverty staring us in the face, refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world.”

I figured what better way to reflect the floating world philosophy (a crushing appreciation for beauty in what’s ephemeral, flecked with doses of indulgent vanity and the pending corruptibility/doom of everything) than to etch this text into the mirror I check myself out in before walking out the door every day.

You need:

  • Mirror
  • A print-out of the text
  • Vinyl letters (I needed 2 packets of 1/2” letters)
  • Glass etch cream
  • Foam brush
  • Tweezers or small pliers
  • Painters or artists tape and scotch or masking tape
  • Some old plastic bags (for protecting parts of your mirror)
  • Old rags/t-shirts/cloths/towels (that you never want to see again)
  • Handkerchief or medical mask
  • Rubber gloves

Costs = $30: 

  • 1/2” Helvetica vinyl letters = 2 @ $4.25 each
  • Glass etch cream = $16.64
  • Foam brush = $1
  • Painters or artists tape = $3.99
  • Everything else = free or already available around the house

Want to see the steps?

How to:

  • After cleaning your mirror well, tape off what you want to protect from the glass etch cream.

  • I cut up some plastic bags to help protect my nice frame during this process.

  • You need a life-size print-out of whatever text you want to use so you can be sure that spacing works.  In order to get the dimensions that fit my mirror I had to do some literal cutting and pasting onto a background sheet.  I messed around with font size until figuring out that Helvetica Neue (bold) 46 pt font is very closely equivalent to the 1/2” lowercase Helvetica vinyl letters I bought on the internet.

  • With the print out as your guide, tape off the upper boundary of where you want the etching.  I used more plastic bags to protect some of the upper part of the mirror, just in case.

  • Ok!  Time for adding those little vinyl letters one-by-one.  A tweezer or similar tool is critical for accurate placement (or maybe I have exceptionally clumsy digits?).  Let your print-out guide you — within word letter spacing, the spacing between words, the spacing between lines, etc.  I kept stepping back and looking at it from afar to double check myself.

  • A mere 3 hours later…

  • Now for the sucky part.  With gloves on and a mask/handkerchief protecting you, pour a thick layer of glass etching cream over the mirror surface.  Use a foam brush to even it out.  Try to get it as thickly even as possible for best results. Leave on for 5 minutes (per bottle instructions).  There’s no getting around it: etching cream is smelly and toxic, so hold your breath and be careful not to make skin contact.  

  • At this point I used old cloth scraps (messed up socks, t-shirts, towels) to scrape off the thick cream, then discarded them in a trash bag which I immediately removed from the apartment.  The easiest way to remove etch cream is to wash the surface with water, but I opted for the mop-up because: a) I was worried a full-on shower would ruin my mirror frame, and b) I felt bad putting the cream in the water supply (any better off in a landfill? prob not).

  • And here’s how it looks hanging in the hallway.  The top edge turned out unintentionally wavy — but for me it was a happy accident since it’s so reminiscent of Japanese rice paper.

Ooo, ok I have to do this.  I have excess vanilla beans (and bottles just like this) I wasn’t sure what to do with, until now.


I know that I have posted homemade vanilla extract before but this one is has a great step-by-step photo tututorial. For me it is all about the simple, simple tutorial! :) Diz

A little while back, I posted a tutorial on The Drink of Summer — some quasi-homemade blueberry & mint infused vodka.  Since then, I’ve made again, though this time with fresh blueberries instead of frozen.  Delicious, and I love how it looks after soaking in a vertical container.

Painted accent branches…<$7

A couple months ago, I picked up some branches someone had cut & left on the street - for a while they had pretty yellow buds on them, but slowly those grayed.  Paint to the rescue.  I mixed yellow & white to get the pale color that matched the birch forest painting I made in the spring.  Ridiculously easy thing to add to any vase, and looks pretty neat [branches are in far right corner above].

You need:

  • Branches
  • Paint (I used acrylics, since that what was around)
  • Paint brush
  • Surface you don’t mind getting paint on

Costs = <$7: 

  • Paint = $3.19 each (x2 = $6.38)
  • Everything else = free or already available around the house

Want to see the steps? 

How to:

  • This is one of those tutorials where I’m like: really Lynn? really? you’re going to show steps that require no explanation?  
  • But I am.
  • Here’s what the branches looked like once very dry & dead.  Pretty drab.

  • First, strip your branches of the dead flower buds so what’s left is just the wood.  It makes sense to me that these branches should be fairly dead/dried out before you paint them, but I don’t have a real good reason.
  • Mix your paint to the desired color.  Yes, you can always use spray paint — but then there’s paint everywhere (not to mention in the atmosphere and in your brains) — so a simple brush-on seems like a nice alternative.
  • Paint your branches.  Make sure you get all the angles, all the nooks and crannies — turn it around in your hand to check.

  • Let dry.  I laid mine on an old towel that I’ve trashed.
  • There it is.  A simple pop of color!  Customizable.  Virtually free.

Another paint chip card.

Stitched city skyline on a starry night…$18

Oh New York, you writhing conurbation of human imagination, I love you.  (Full disclosure: I am an urban planner, I like cities.  A lot.)  Cruising across the bridge to Manhattan and seeing that massive built environment rising to greet me gets Jay-Z and Alicia Keys all up in my brains.  This is my simple simple facsimile of your grandeur.  Urban embroidery may be my new thing (see yesterday’s post).  After receiving some amazing crafty gifts, I threw this skyline together with materials I had lying around. 

You need:

  • Foam core board
  • Thin plastic/mylar sheet (can use a binder divider)
  • Small paint brush (with flat brush tip is best)
  • Some pastels (at least black + another color)
  • Glitter/sparkle glaze
  • Glitter paint or clear glaze
  • Xacto knife/box cutter
  • Cutting mat or surface
  • Some binder clips
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery thread
  • Thin nail
  • Scissors

Costs = <$18 (for as many as you can make out of your board)

  • Foam core board = $2.33
  • Thin plastic/mylar sheet = <$2
  • Some pastels (at least black + another color) = <$7
  • Glitter/sparkle glaze = $1.39
  • Glitter paint = $2.29
  • Embroidery needle = <$1
  • Embroidery thread = $1.50
  • Everything else = free or already available around the house

Want to see the steps?

How to:

  • First I just hand-sketched a simple skyline of some of my favorite buildings in NYC.  Don’t worry about too much detail - it will largely get lost anyway.  If you want this jpeg, just email me at

  • Clip the sketch to a cutting mat or surface.

  • Clip/secure your plastic/mylar sheet over the sketch and, using a Xacto cutter, cut along the lines.  You want to get two separate, intact inverse pieces (city and sky).  You can use these over and over!

  • Once you have your foam core board cut to the size of your city sketch (mine was 6” x 6”), you’re ready to add some color.  Pastels (a gift!) work amazingly well because they’re so rich and blend-able.  Use your fingers to rub the color into the board and blend. 
  • In what’s pictured below, I used a light blue pastel, then added purple near the top to create a twilight/dusk effect.  Shake off excess dust.

  • Here’s one I did with more purple.

  • I then coated the entire board with a sparkle glaze I got as a gift (awesome gift) - which conjured the night sky, which inspired the cityscape.  Coat the board’s edge too.

  • Once dry, secure your plastic cut-out over the board.

  • Use a black pastel to fill black into the building areas.

  • With the plastic “stencil” covering still on, add a glaze/coating over the black pastel.  I happened to have some Extreme Glitter Paint (another awesome gift from the same awesome gift-giver), so I used that.  But any clear glaze or coating would work (just something that prevents the pastel from getting all over the place and a finish that contrasts the iridescent sparkly night sky).

  • Remove stencil and let dry.

  • Using a nail, poke holes at the critical points in the design, i.e. where the building shapes change, corners, spires, etc.

  • Now it’s just a matter of sewing the outline with a contrasting embroidery thread.  I used a pewter color since it’s what I had lying around.  The embroidery is genius for covering mistakes and imprecisions.  Stitching is pretty self-explanatory, just be sure to stitch over the outside edge of the board on the far left and far right side.

  • Here’s what the back looks like, just in case you’re wondering.

  • Here’s another photo of a finished product.


Urban embroidery.  Ackkk!  I love it.  Courtesy of Wendi and Joel, housed at Made by Joel.

Who knew gold-painted feathers could look so good?  Courtesy of Abbey of Aesthetic Outburst.

Painted these.  5th attempt at painting in my life so I’m proud of myself. 

Another way to personalize kids’ clothes.  These simple triangles are brilliant!  Courtesy of Merrillee of Mer Mag

Tie-dyed personalized onesies…$50 for lots

Remember a few weeks back when I posted home-brewed vodka in bottles personalized for new moms? Well, that was Component #1 of a new mom’s survival pack and the hand-dyed onesies in this tutorial are Component #2. Help get those babies clothed.  

You need:

  • A bunch of onesies of different sizes (packs of newborn, 3 months, 6 months, & 1 year are readily available)
  • Dye (I used a store-bought packet, but wish I had done natural home dye)
  • Rubber bands (you need a ton)
  • String/cotton mason line
  • Marbles (optional)
  • Cardboard cylinders/sticks/batons (optional)
  • Bucket/trash can
  • Iron
  • Iron-on letters

Costs = <$50 for a dozen: 

  • A bunch of onesies = $36 for 12
  • Dye = $3.60
  • Rubber bands = $1.99
  • String = $1.94
  • Iron-on letters = $5.27
  • Everything else = free or already available around the house

Want to see the steps?

How to:

  • I am no tie-dye expert.  I winged it.  I used Honestly…WTF fantastic post on shibori dying as inspiration.
  • I had some sturdy cardboard cylinders lying around, so I used them as a means to wrap some of the onesies around.  Sticks, branches, batons, etc., would also be great. Then I just wrapped string randomly, and added marbles with rubber bands around them wherever possible. Other onesies I just did more simple wraps. Haphazard to say the least.

  • Now you’re ready to dye in your bucket or trash can.  Follow the instructions. I tried to leave parts of some of the onesies out of the dye to give a more two-tone gradient effect.
  • Wash the final product several times in hot, then cold water to make sure you’ve sucked out as much of the excess dye as possible. 
  • And here’s what some ended up looking like:

  • Now you’re ready to iron on some letters in honor of the little tykes that will wear the outfits. The iron-on packs make it super easy — just use the included paper sheet, iron, and you’re done.

  • The final product:

  • Or, if you’re low on time, just a quick iron-on letter to the sleeve of a store-bought T makes a cute outfit.

Words on mirrors (Part 1)…$25

I’m on a glass etching cream tear/terror (see last week’s personalized bottles).  I’ve got extra, so nothing in my apartment is safe.  These little Ikea mirrors I have lying around make for awesome etching - and “cutie pie” makes a nice gift for a little girl.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this, in which I attempt a much more difficult version…

You need:

  • Mirror
  • 1/2” vinyl letters
  • Glass etch cream
  • Foam brush
  • Painters or artists tape

Costs = $25:

[really not that worth it unless you already have everything on hand]

  • 1/2” vinyl letters = $4.25
  • Glass etch cream = $16.64
  • Foam brush = $1
  • Painters or artists tape = $3.99
  • Everything else = free or already available around the house

Want to see how easy it is?

How to:

  • Use the vinyl letters to spell out words.

  • Bound the area you want to etch with tape.

  • Add cream according to directions.  Give it a nice thick layer.

  • Wash, clean, and there it is.  Not earth-shattering, but kinda cute for a kid’s room.

Oh so great.  Thank you Erica & Lauren!


DIY Wrap Bracelet

Personalized glass bottles (for the Drink of Summer)…$22

Welcome back.

    - Vodka

After 9 months on the wagon, new moms could use a drink.  Enter the Drink of Summer: blueberry-mint infused vodka (see last week’s post for tutorial).  I had the good fortune of being given some awesome glass bottles from my buddy Errol and knew they would be the perfect vessels to personalize. After a little bit of glass etching cream, you’ve got yourself a pretty cool gift for a new mom.  Mix with some fresh squeezed lemon over ice in celebration of new additions to the family.

You need:

  • Glass bottles
  • 1” or 1/2” vinyl letters
  • Glass etch cream
  • Foam brush
  • A rag/sock/sponge you don’t want to use again
  • Rubber gloves
  • Painters/artists or masking tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Reinforcement stickers (optional)

Costs = <$22 for many: 

  • 1” or 1/2” vinyl letters = $4.25 each
  • Glass etch cream = $16.64
  • Foam brush = $1
  • Everything else = free or already available around the house

Want to see the tutorial?

How to:

  • For making infused vodka, see the Drink of Summer tutorial.  Needs about a week of soaking.
  • Clean glass bottles thoroughly.  Boiling them for a bit in a big pot of water helps.
  • Once dry, you’re ready to use the adhesive letters.  Use a rubber band to help you make the letters straight.

  • Any number of short phrases work.  Mom juice.  Special mommy vodka.  Welcome back, Vodka.  

  • Add two layers of tape, one to the bottom, one to the top.

  • If you’ve got paper reinforcements lying around, they make good bubble patterns.  Not necessary.

  • Wearing rubber gloves, brush on etching cream.  You want as thick of a layer as is possible on a cylindrical object.  Follow the instructions on the bottle (usually wait about 5 minutes).  Rinse with water and an old sock.

  • Pour in the homemade vodka.  Gift.

  • With the home-infused vodka inside:

The Drink of Summer…cost of vodka + $6

Infusing vodka with blueberry and mint is well worth the minimal effort.  It, when added to a squeeze of lemon on the rocks, is the Drink of Summer.  It’s so delicious and easy, the hardest part is remembering it’s nearly pure vodka. 

You need:

  • Vodka (I went big style with some Ketel)
  • Bag of frozen blueberries (Trader Hoes)
  • Handful of washed mint
  • Large container with lid
  • Normal pasta strainer
  • Strainer with tight weave or cheese cloth
  • Lemon

Costs = vodka + $6: 

  • Bag of frozen blueberries or carton of fresh = <$3
  • Handful of washed mint = <$2
  • Lemon = <$1
  • Everything else = free or already available around the house

Want to see the tutorial?

How to:

  • Pour vodka into a large container.
  • Add blueberries and a large handful of washed mint.  Cover. 
  • Tuck away in a dark cupboard for a week.  If you feel like it, shake it every once in a while, or stir.
  • My second time doing this, I used fresh blueberries in a tall carafe and did not stir — look how beautiful:

  • After a week, pour through a strainer.  (this pic is of fresh ones)

  • Press on blueberries to squeeze out the juice. (this pic is of frozen ones)

  • Now pour through a fine-meshed strainer of cheesecloth.

  • Pour into glass (over ice if you like).  Add a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon.  There it is, the Drink of Summer.

Loading posts...