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Shoebox: Ribbon Pens

It takes nimble fingers to decorate these ball-point pens.

Oh my! There was an idea that we loved that was in the Shoebox today! Irene DeLa Puente of Orange, Texas sent it to us, and it was a challenge to say the least, but my producer Cherryl Greene and I really liked it so we had to give it a try.

Irene sent us a photograph (Figure A) along with several samples of the ballpoint pens that she had covered with woven 1/8-inch wide ribbon strips (Figure B). She had originally wrapped the pens with embroidery floss but said that she then regained her senses and switched to ribbon, which went much faster. I came nowhere near matching Irene's time to make one, which she said was 30 minutes, but perhaps with a bit more practice I might at least come a bit closer.

Irene made some of her pens using just one color of ribbon. Others she made using two colors, which made the checkerboard pattern much more prominent. They were all attractive.

1. Use a ballpoint pen that you can easily take apart if possible. It makes it easier if you can remove both ends, pull out the ink cartridge or tube and work with only the center section of the pen (Figure C).

2. Cover the entire section with the heavy duty double-sided tape (we call it "red-liner tape") that is used so frequently on the show.

3. Cut nine strips of the 1/8-inch wide ribbon to the length of the shaft you will be covering. One at a time, attach these strips around one end of the pen shaft. Attach only the end 1/2 inch. Butt each length up to the one next and make certain that they are straight. The nine strips should fit perfectly around the pen shaft. If you need more or less ribbon strips to cover the pen shaft, it should be an uneven number (Figure D).

4. Hold the pen by the end with the attached ribbons. It will be easier to work if you hold the pen vertically so the ribbons cascade down over your hand.

5. With your other hand holding a long length of ribbon, start to weave through the ribbons (Figure E). Pick the ribbons up one at a time and press to the double-sided tape as you weave the other ribbon through. When you get around the pen once you will see that the weaving ribbon will meet up with itself so you have to angle it to continue around the next row.

6. After a few rows this angle will all but disappear. Continue weaving until the entire length of the pen shaft is covered (Figure G). Cut the weaving ribbon and any excess length on the other ribbons. Note - If you wrap a length ribbon around and around the pen shaft before you cover it with tape, you will get an idea about how long to cut the weaving ribbon. Try not to overlap too much when you do this to give you a more accurate measurement.

7. Reassemble the pen.

8. Wrap each end of the shaft with embroidery floss for about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch, covering up the raw ends of the ribbons and giving a more finished look to the piece (Figure I).

Irene also tied on several lengths of embroidery floss to which she had strung small beads (Figure J). These take a bit of practice but they are wonderful looking. You will no doubt discover your own embellishments.

Note - On the show I mentioned that I found it easier to put the double-stick tape on in increments instead of covering the entire pen at one time. I later discovered that because I was holding the pen horizontally it was more difficult to keep the ribbons out of the way. By holding it vertically the ribbons will cascade down over your hand and stay out of your way so putting the tape on all at one time really is easier.

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