Category: DIY

Paper Bag Lion Puppet and Toxin-free Paints…

Lion. Created a while ago…the mane was created with paper found in the used paper bin. When I presented this to them…the young’uns could see there was some value in that bin…


A couple of days ago, I decided to add more detail…


Voila…a lion’s heart (and face…)


A lion’s tail…this and all of the details created from used paper…


Lion’s mouth…




Lion Ensemble


In the classroom…and sweet hugs goodbye…


Hanging out…

“Why do you care so much about the environment?” asked a young’un.

I didn’t say much in response.

Not sure if I have a response except for that I do feel like this Earth is a womb…something alive and wonderful and magical…that my eyes feel more comfortable amongst the trees and water…

it provides for me and provides joy…


BTW, here are some plant-based ingredients for toxin-free paints for children (and adults…):

1) corn syrup  — around 1/4 cup
2) corn starch and/or baking soda — around 1 cup

and 3):

pink     beets
red-orange     paprika
turquoise     red cabbage
green     spinach or carrot tops
yellow     tumeric
brown     coffee/black tea
light brown     onion skins
pale orange       curry powder
violet      hibiscus tea
deep purple      grape juice
blue-grey     blueberries
lavender      blackberries or cranberries
olive green     marigold petals
light blue     petunias


From now until March 31st, for every purchase, a pair of Sterling Silver Thinnest And Strongest Thin Hoop Earrings will be donated to a 501c(3) benefitting children, animals, and/or the environment.

Thank you for your kind feedback and purchases!


If/when a 6th Annual December Blog Celebration is announced, all purchasers will be automatically entered!


Feed your mind of good happenings


A recent interview with this helenbobelen


Creative Minimalist Health And Wellness


Hi! Just wanted you to know that the earrings you made are gorgeous! They are perfect and they sparkle! I believe that communication is the most  important part of  of a business and you impressed me there. Thank you so much for your great customer service, the fast shipping and the lovely packaging. Thank you for the fantastic earrings and for supporting charities. I will make sure to recommend you to everyone I know. — k.g.


Merino Wool Skirt #2: How I Fill My Head And Heart

My friend since college M texted me a couple of days ago…”Are you okay? At least they caught the guy. That was weird.”

I was like, “Um, who’s texting? Thanks.” (I don’t store phone info on my phone…and try to keep phone usage to a minimum since that’s time away from creating with my hands…is that weird? Anyhoo, I digress…)

She’s like, “It’s me, M..”

M. and I chat 4 or 5 times a year…we have one or two major differing political views. She’s not a minimalist, sedentary, allergic to cats, thinks I write too small, and has never called me “Helenbobelen”. Nay, instead she calls me “Ms. Entropy”. What we do have is a longstanding friendship (27 years!) and thus, deep trust…we’re both young-faced pacifists, casually-ambitious career-wise, and we both enjoy my hoop earrings, yoga, art, playing the piano, and home-prepared meals…by her mother; we’re both nerdy in that we both do our own bookkeeping/accounting.

I call her immediately…she’s a Californian surgeon so I’m thinking I’m catching her in the o.r. or something…but also feel like she might have a couple of minutes…


“Hey, it’s Helen…what’s going on?”

“You heard about that guy?”

“A little…but honestly, I was in the studio all day yesterday and finally got out around 6 and scootered around town…”

M. giggled, “Scooter…”

(I haven’t seen her in decades, but I imagine she drives a Volvo station wagon or something…I’ve never asked her about her car…we often talk about her son’s cheery personality and how she wants a daughter…)

“I read the news a little yesterday, but I don’t know much of the story…” I said.

She filled me in and went to the o.r.


So you see, this is my world…I’m in Austin, but I don’t really make the effort to keep up with news stories*…when I scootered around last Sunday morning, it felt like the city had become “abandoned” and my body got the weird feels as I covered suddenly-open space on the bike lane. I didn’t teach Monday. Nor the next scheduled day.

Usually, I’m okay with less-than-paradise conditions…including a bee sting (I didn’t know it was a bee sting until I googled its circular shape…and then there was that time I went 3+ miles on my scooter with a less-than-good knee…

(Ecoutez, If I need to disarm someone, I’ll either use my Jedi calm or ninja defense skills as I’ve done in the past as I travelled and/or lived alone.)

In fact, I knew nothing about the cancelled shows nor the weeks of less-than-safeness until today, Thursday, when I read the Austin Chronicle.


When I was in NYC and the twin towers went down, I was in our Upper West Side apartment with just enough of a sniffle to stay home. That morning, I was in our bathroom and could overhear the neighbors whispering in the hallway about watching the news and immediately went to the TV to see everything with the airplanes happen live. After a few visual media runs, I stopped watching.

(BTW, I haven’t had a TV since 2006. I chalk it up to my “village wiseman” grandfather who loved children and abhorred propaganda; I never saw him in front of a TV, nor with a newspaper in his hands — everyone adored him because when he talked to you, he was fully present…en plus, he was rarely on the phone…and…and he trimmed my grandmother’s fingernails!…when he was younger, he could’ve had multiple wives — but he didn’t!…He was so contented!…I digress…)

Back then, in NYC, with or without TV, our brains tried to grasp the uncertainty of it all. We all filed out onto the streets and went to the corner ice cream store where children continued to play and we licked our cones with half-smiles.

The next day, I ended up baking cookies and taking them, along with an unused new filtered breathing mask, to the closest fire station.

Days later, to empower myself, with a machine and without patterns, I sewed 3 skirts.


Today, I’m dairy/sniffle-free, cookie/gluten-free, keep a mask/toxin-free studio, and work by hand…if I’m asking myself a question, it’s, “Am I in my heart?” or else, “What’s the one thing I can do RIGHT NOW to resolve this situation?”

(And sometimes, it’s just as simple as taking a deep breath and/or a nap with a kitten…)

This being said, on Monday, unknowingly/knowingly, I hand-sewed this skirt for all of us…consider it a big warm hug…:




Whatever I need to know is revealed to me at exactly the right time.
I listen with love to my body’s messages.

— Louise Hay

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.

— Ayurvedic Proverb


So this is DIY merino wool skirt from a sweater #2, you can see the first one here at this post

The merino wool skirt-to-be…at this point, I have no idea what it’ll look like because there’s a different sweater hem…


This Helenbobelen washed this sweater, drip-dried, and then created the first cut to begin the skirt creation.


Turn the skirt inside out. Here I shaped the waist and top hip area that more accurately reflects this Helenbobelen’s waist and top hip shape…


The waistband folded to the inside and a basting stitch to hold it in place until smaller stitches are used…


Smaller stitches…


Excess fabric is cut away (I left about 1/4 inch) and then a blanket stitch…


Turn the skirt right side back out and then cut two holes in the front…lace a ribbon through the channel using a safety pin as a lead…and then using a needle and thread, “wrap” the hole’s rough edges.


A close up of the holes and waistband…



As usual, thank you for your kind feedback, purchases, and support!

I love Austin, TX…I appreciate all the hugs I’ve received in the past 3 days…


* For years and years, I limit newspaper reading to just read headlines unless it’s an inspirational article. ‘Just found out my two close girlfriends also have been doing the same thing…Human rights watch Amnesty International keeps me informed of everything else…on another note, so glad they’re thinking of keeping tampons/and-other-products-providing-womb-maintenance-of-our-future-human-leaders tax-free…

DIY Merino Wool Skirt from a Sweater

Merino wool sweater to soon become a merino wool skirt…handwashed/drip-dried for any possible shrinkage…disregard the gathered marks in the middle created by drying on a hanger…they’ll disappear with usage…


Cut sweater. I chose to cut the sweater a bit higher because the top will be folded down into a waistband casing for a ribbon (aka: a gathered waist…).


Voila! Skirt cut! (…now what to do with those wingy-dings at each side…)


Hmmmm…still pondering those wingy-dings…don’t know since this is purely off-the-cuff DIY…(but hey, look at the grosgrain ribbon!)…


Ok. Let’s draw, using a contrasting pencil, a diagonal line that blends into the side seam…


Stitch the line…my students know I use three stitches…1) basting stitch 2) straight stitch and 3) blanket stitch…


After the basting and straight stitches, trim away the excess fabric (including the wingy-dings)…5/8 inch allowance is the industry standard but I say forget industry standards, this is DIY your way, use less fabric allowance and securely sew that blanket stitch (which you’ll see in the next photo)…do it with LOVE and TLC…


See? Nice and tidy (enough)…


Now the other side (otro lado/autre cote…this is haute couture so I’m going to use some foreign languages…I digress…)…you can fold the skirt in the middle to match the skirt edges/side seam to ensure an even drape…


Voila…voila…voila! Okay, now we gotta get the skirt to STAY on once we put it on…waistband next…


Wait…back to the hem (and waistband)…one interesting note…the front hem should be slightly shorter than the back hem (depending on the size of your derriere)…and the front waistline will slightly dip lower than the back waistline…(if in doubt on this part, look at your other skirts to see how the hem and waist lines drape…mimic…breathe…remember, this is an old sweater and you’ll practice with other sweaters/t-shirts/fabric…besides…interesting mistakes lead to interesting innovation…breathe…)


Turn the skirt inside out. Fold over the skirt’s waist portion.


Figure out how much foldover you need according to the ribbon’s width.


A little bit of fabric “wrastling” with the rolling edge (on the other hand wool has an automatic “finished hem” if you need one…)…here I set the band to be 1 inch and 1/8 and pencil in a line…I used all three stitch-types and then cut away the excess rolling fabric…kinda tricky…but doable…


I forgot why I took this picture…oh yeah, it’s because I turned the skirt right side up and folded it in half vertically to make a line on the waistband’s middle point…I’ll be cutting two flanking holes (from the middle point) through which to thread the ribbon and for the ribbon strands to come out of and be tied…


Holes cut…(then I’ll take a needle and thread and reinforce the hole’s raw edges…reference a sweater’s button hole to see what that looks like…mine’s a bit less-machine-like, but still does the trick…)…almost done…


Thread the ribbon through the finished holes using a safety pin to lead it through the waistband. Figure out how long you want the ribbon/bow to be. Cut. Then, fold the ribbon tips in half, cut at a diagonal, and take a match to the edges to keep it fray-free…now you have a $500 stink-free, bacteria-free, parasite-free merino wool (handwash & wear/drip-dry) skirt…xoxo, H.

It rained yesterday…(…sunnier today). Yesterday, I created this skirt. It costed me $7.57 for the 100% merino wool sweater and $2.00 for the on-sale grosgrain ribbon…Back in the 80s, I saw a red 100% merino wool skirt priced at $500.00…this one’s not lined…so I figure it’s probably worth the same dollar amount except this one’s Earth-friendly and custom-fit to this Helenbobelen.

You, too, can make this skirt for yourself. Just take your favorite skirt to the men’s sweater section of any consignment/thrift store and hold it up to any 100% merino wool sweater…and if it looks like it’ll fit (and if it’s gathered at the bottom, it can be a bubble skirt), then take it home, and make it!

Wear it!



P.S. You can do this with oversized t-shirts (if you can swing it, use OEKO TEX organic cotton fabric, it’ll feel better and is healthier for you and the planet).

P.S. Why merino wool? You can check out my other blog posts about it…in addition it’s pill-free, unlike cashmere and angora.

P.S.S. Be kind to animals. Purchase used wool whenever possible…

P.S.S.S. Yes, I’ll be making something out of the sweater’s upper part…


From now until March 31st, for every purchase, a pair of Sterling Silver Thinnest And Strongest Thin Hoop Earrings will be donated to a 501c(3) benefitting children, animals, and/or the environment. 

Thank you for your kind feedback and purchases!


If/when a 6th Annual December Blog Celebration is announced, all purchasers will be automatically entered!