Sunday, November 22, 2015

Recycled Pick Up Sticks

So, I have a slight obsession with sushi.  Big D and I go about once every other week to a conveyor belt sushi joint down the road from us.  We LOVE it, and for sushi in a restaurant, it's not too badly priced.  However, I feel guilty everytime I snap apart my chopsticks, thinking about what a waste of wood they are.  I keep meaning to bring my own one day, but I usually forget in my excitement to get to the filleted fishies.  In an attempt to remind myself, I started bringing home every pair of chopsticks our table used every time we went there.

Within a month, I had quite a collection growing in my Pringles can.  Needing to do SOMETHING with them, give them some second life, I planned a few different projects, with one in particular that I I jumped on: Pick Up Sticks!

I thought the end result looked pretty impressive for it just being chop sticks, paint, paper and a Pringle's can.

The first step to this was getting all my chop sticks turned into pick-up sticks.  As these were used for food, and soy sauce stained into wood, the first thing I had to do was sand down each stick, to remove any stains, rough spots, or burrs along the length of the sticks.  To do this, I simply took sand paper, folded in in half, and placed a stick inside.  Pressing the paper against the wood with one hand, I  pushed the stick in and out of my 'sandpaper taco wrap' with my other hand, continuously rolling it to get all the sides smoothed.  

Then came the painting.  After reading a few different rules and game styles, I went with a variation that seemed a little simpler but still with point keeping involved.  It required 7 red, 7 blue, 7 yellow, 8 green, and 1 black stick.  As I plan on this being a holiday gift, I changed it up just a little and made the yellow into gold and the black into silver, which added a little flair to the pile of sticks.  

Painting these things was tougher than I thought, but part of that is because I had cheap acrylic paint. I mean cheap.  Paint is one of those things that you can get by without buying the most expensive, but the really, really cheap stuff makes you regret at times.  Part of the reason some cheap paint isn't so good is because the amount of colorant ppm (parts per million) is a lot less, so more is needed to reach the same intensity of a color.  With really, really cheap paint, they also add more water, so it gets even thinner and harder to work with.  However, by sanding the wood first I had opened up the grain and my chopsticks took the paint pretty well.  I had to make a few coats on the green and blue.  The red for some reason took to the wood really well.  The gold and silver paint was more expensive and coated nicely once over with just a few touch ups.  I just kept applying thin coats to the wood, and letting them dry while adding more to others.  

You can see my paint tray in the photo, which is the plastic case packaging for a Cricut Cuddlebug plate.  The hard acrylic case provides a great surface for putting the paint on, and the paint peels off/washes off it easily so you can reuse it again and again.  In this case, it also doubled as a 'drying rack' for my sticks, so I could keep turning them to prevent any drips or sticking.  When they were done, I shot them all with a matte-polyurethane spray, as that was the only sealant I had on hand.

As for the packaging, I worked hard to create a simple but interesting label for the can.  You may download and print the label for your own Pringles can, if you like!  If you are going to replicate this, I believe you will want to make sure to size your chopsticks up with the can, as some Pringles cans are shorter now-a-days and they may not fit your sticks.  I took black paint to the top and bottom of the can to ensure no "Nutrition Facts" or other words would be seen.  I printed my label onto card stock, wrapped it around the can, and glued in place. 

So, for all that work, I have a finished game of Pick-Up Sticks, ready to play! If you want to print out the label, feel free to download it from Google Drive and print.  These would make great inexpensive gifts for young children.  

Click to Download >>  Pick-Up Sticks Game Label

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