DIY Magnet List

I have explored making a magnet To-Do list. Here is what I usually use, just a list with a very weak black magnet strip. This is one of my nicer ones, the magnet is a bit larger on the back, of course I don’t get the tiny ones. It’s still pretty weak.

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What I wanted to do was make a To-Do list without a disposable magnet. Something that was strong and would also function to hold up things on the fridge. I tack everything I need on the fridge. My work calendar, my daughter’s, phone numbers, grocery list, coupons, pictures, pizza menu (only one started delivering to us last week), regular calendar, and a few more miscellaneous things. Yet my shopping list can only hold itself up. I feel that is a bit of wasted space.

Here are a few of my experiments:

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This is a little clipboard I found and put 2 magnets on the back. On the side I put a strip of pretty elastic held on by little clips (picture 3) to attach a pen.  The second picture shows the back. I should have only put on one magnet. It is a little difficult to pull off the fridge. Although, you can rip pages off without the list flying off, as my regular list usually does. I don’t care for it as much because the page doesn’t rip cleanly unless I take the list off the clipboard. The strong magnets keep the clipboard on the fridge during the process, but still, it’s more inconvenient than my regular disposable magnet list.

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This is Acco Klix Classic Metal Paper Fasteners. They are cute little things that I’ve come to love on their own. I chose these because they can hold up to 30 papers and as few as 1. Here I have it attached to a pad of paper.  As with the clipboard, the paper doesn’t rip cleanly. It struck me what this would be really good for, and perhaps the clipboard too, is holding scrap paper instead of a pad of paper. I try to be ‘green’ around the house. When I print a coupon it often is just part of the page. I don’t always have a place to stick the scrap paper. Putting them in these clips sounds like a good idea. The problem with the clip, at least for me, was the learning curve of opening it. It can be a bit difficult. You have to bend it to open it and I was afraid of breaking it.

I’m not sure what I’ll do. I may put up a few of the Klix’s to see if there is any interest. I will probably stick with what I love, my Glass Marble Magnets. Here are 2 new sets that I need to put up on Etsy.

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Fun Facts about Neodymium (rare earth) magnets

I found it very interesting that these Neodymium magnets were first made in 1982 by General Motors which they commercialized in 1989. They are made out of powder and solidified in a bonded magnet process. They don’t go into much detail anywhere on how its done. Needless to say, it’s not something the home-crafter can whip out on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Interesting to note, China produces more than 95% of rare earth elements involved, and makes about 76% of the world’s total rare-earth magnets.

1/2" x 1/8" rare earth magnet

1/2″ x 1/8″ rare earth magnet

One thing that is very important to note is that, as cool as they are, they are dangerous. At first when I read about them I thought, ha ha body parts can be pinched between two rapidly approaching magnets. I would like to verify that the magnets I use do attract quite quickly and with great force. They pinch quite fiercely, in fact. Knowing how fast and hard they travel to attract to each other, it makes me queasy to think that a child could swallow a few of these. I can see how quickly lethal they might become.

There was a child’s game using Bucky Balls and another game called Magnetix. Bucky Balls were recalled in the 2000’s and when I tried to sell a Magnetix game I had on Ebay I was told it was not allowed due to the possibility of children getting hurt. Neodymium magnets are not for children.

Neodymium magnets are also dangerous because they are made of powders that have solidified. At their heart they are fragile. If the magnets are slammed down or allowed to forcefully collide they can chip. I have had magnets flake on me when I’ve accidentally forgot how strong they can be. You have to be careful. I could see if there were flakes around and a person was waving a few of the other magnets these tiny shards could go flying into their face.

This made me wonder if they would be good for home, everyday use. After half a school year I and my co-workers have not had any problems with wear issues. We are not gentle on equipment, so I feel it is a good test. Just don’t throw them around.

It also made me wonder if this is why so many magnets on cabochons or clips, while neodymium, were so small/weak. Those magnets (1/2″x1/16″) barely recognize there is another magnet near them. They can be placed side by side in a package without attracting so forcefully to each other.  Do I sound jealous, I sort of am. The ones I use (1/2″x1/8″) quiver if there is another less than an inch away. I had to find a metal box to contain them, plus other precautions. Picture taking can be quite difficult. Below are two magnets I tried to place on opposite corners. They were having none of that!

Magnets holding onto lid through bottle cap & epoxy dome.

Magnets holding onto lid through bottle cap & epoxy dome.

While I did wonder, I feel just holding one or two pieces of paper is not what I need. I have used the black disks that you can pick up at craft stores on my door decorations. If a student brushed against the paper magnets would scatter across the floor. It was very annoying.

At home I have a To-Do List with the cardboard backing and a black tape magnet glued to the back. Today I pulled off the paper and the pad went flying. Need things to stay where I put them.

I find rare earth magnets fascinating, fun and extremely useful. I hope you enjoy reading about them.



Magnetic To-do List Part 2

I was very excited for the product I got yesterday. This is it, I thought, simple and elegant. The reviews were really great as well. Everyone loved it. They said you don’t need the handy tool to attach it to paper (HA! I call BS). In my head, it looked great. Of course, there was no point of reference and the only measurements. Here is the product, with no points of reference. IMG_3168I thought it was just the thing. Elegant, yet simple. It can hold up to 40 papers, yet also hold only one paper. Great! Perfect! There are many times when I print something out only to have 2 pages of web address or something unrelated. This would be perfect for recycling, too. Cut the scrap paper into quarters and voila, a pad of paper held with this dandy clip attached to my favorite magnet. So, here it is with other objects for scale: IMG_3169 IMG_3166 IMG_3167 It looks kind of silly now. It is a bugger to get onto the paper. Good thing I had the gadget. Even then, there was a learning curve. If you look close at the paper you can see my mistakes. It was tough to get off, and I don’t see how anyone can put that on without chipping a nail. And I don’t mean in the girly way. If I put on the magnet then it won’t fit into the tool. It’s a bust. In my head I thought it would be the size of the black clip in the first picture. That is a medium sized clip. This notebook is a 6 inch notebook, so not a standard paper size. The third picture shows how much my magnet takes up the entire clip. Not a bad thing, it’s just smaller than I imagined. This is my criteria:

  • It has to be reusable. I hate how disposable objects can be.
  • It has to look nice. I may not be Martha Stewart, but I don’t want my house to look like Bag Lady Recycle Chic.
  • It has to be something people need, meaning I need it.
  • It has to be affordable. I hate it when things are priced too high. There is only so much Artistic Vision that goes into putting a magnet on it. (I don’t buy into the Etsy “raise the price then they’ll buy it” school of commerce.)

Right now we do buy those magnetic lists. Well, my husband does. I put up a piece of paper with a magnet and then he goes to the store and buys a “list pad” with the black tape magnet on the back. He likes the pads of paper. Since he is a slave to the list, he buys everything on it, I can’t be too upset. Especially when he comes home and says he couldn’t find any smiles, but he got snickers since it was close to a smile. Yes, the girl and I do put crazy things on the list just to see what he gets. Here were a few other ideas: IMG_3171First, here is the medium clip, thought about a magnet on it. Nah. Then I thought of a small art canvas with a post it note held with with glue dots. Nah. The next one is closer to what I want. It sort of exemplifies Bag Lady Chic.  I had just found the clock face while cleaning and those stickers, I thought might liven it up a bit. The envelope holding the pen was a thought because my daughter (a writer and avid pen user) dislikes pens having holders to hook the pen cap in because it puts the point up in the air. Doing that makes the ink run down out of the tip and then it starts to blot. I liked the idea of the post-it note since sometimes you just need to slap a note on something and can’t find the posties quickly. IMG_3173 I have clipboards that are wood-ish. My daughter is painting those. She has a good eye for colors. She used to make steampunk props and did good business. She once outfitted a wedding party with pistols and matching bride and groom shotguns. We’ll have to see how those turn out. It’s a process. I considered cash register tape on a spool. Where you can pull down the list and have something attached to the inner spool. Now we’re getting into specialty papers, the paper rolling, I’m sure there are other problems. So, it’s back to the drawing board, again. I could just bypass all this, get a notepad, stick my magnet on it and call it disposable. I just KNOW there is a way of doing this that is practical and more re-usable than putting a notepad in a magnetic can. That is another thought of mine. My daughter drinks tea from tins. We stuck a magnet on a tin and are using it to hold pens and pencils.  I just don’t see Steve dragging a list out of a tin to write on it. We like to do a list walk-by since we’re usually in a hurry when we remember to write it down. This is still a fun project. I’m still looking for that perfect thing.

DIY Magnetic To-Do List: From Complicated to Easy

Someone asked me if I ever thought about making magnetic to-do lists. I had thought about it, but while it seems pretty easy it can get complicated. I use very strong magnets, they have 6.6 pounds of force. I don’t think they can hold 6 pounds, but they’re pretty good.

Anyway, you stick a small magnet on the cardboard on the back (meaning the magnet is between the last page and the cardboard) it bends awkwardly. I could glue a cheap, thin black magnet back there, but then you’d be throwing it away. Even it being cheap I hate the idea of disposable things. I’m not the best tree-hugger, but if we can re-use I’m all for it.

Then I thought about making a holder. Maybe out of polymer clay. My daughter advises against it. Apparently it’s stupid. She had tried to make a barrette backing and it bent in a odd way, got fat, she hated it. She tells me, ‘it will not do what you want.”

Think think think. I could alter a small clip board and stick magnets on it.

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It seems like a cop-out. Most of the work is done.  But hey, it holds paper. I have 2 magnets here, but only one is needed. I’ll play around with it to see if two are better for balance (or ballast), but it has potential. Still, its more factory work than my own work, so I’m still brainstorming.

Of course, the simplest ideas work the best, so here it is: Drum Roll . . . .




TA DA! One of my Glass Marble Magnets holds this whole pack of paper. I counted and there are 36 pieces of paper plus the chipboard/cardboard backing. I was SO impressed with my little magnets. I couldn’t believe they worked so well. The pad is 3.5 inches wide by 5 inches high.

Other ideas that I’m not considering.

IMG_3163    Steve thought just balance the pad of paper on the magnets. Looks good to him.

IMG_3165And then he dug out this magnetic clip which he called FANCY.

As you can tell, we love magnets. The rocks are for Steve. He has a rock tumbler and wanted his rocks to be magnets.

I’ve not given up on this. Even though the magnet on top of the list does seem to do the job, I’d like something a little fancier. I’m still working on the problem. Any suggestions are welcome.

DIY Fun Light Switch Plates: cheap and easy kid craft



All you need is Mod Podge (or white glue), a sponge brush, pretty paper, pencil, nice scissors and a light switch plate. A craft knife/blade would probably be better, but I don’t like using them. If kids are making these, scissors are better.

From start to finish this activity took less than 30 minutes. I always put down either a newspaper or just scrap paper that will keep the work area from getting messy and that I don’t mind throwing out.




Trace the outlet with the pencil, giving plenty of extra room around the plate. The extra paper will be folded under the edges. Cut out the rectangle for the light switch. You can poke a hole into the screw area, the screw will cover up any mess there.



Glue the top of the plate and the paper and place the paper on top. In this picture you can see I didn’t give myself enough paper, so I cut another larger piece.


Fold the paper under and smooth out all the wrinkles. Very simple craft.  I love using tissue paper, so I made another one with tissue paper.


I had more fun making this one, but the yellow roses looks more ‘adult’.

Magnet strengths

I’d like to talk about magnet strengths. My first magnets that I bought were small. They were neodymium and they looked a good size to go on my bumblebees and marbles. I liked the slim profile and had read that neodymium magnets were strong. I suppose relative to their size, they are.  Unfortunately, this size didn’t hold up many papers.

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I also bought some bar magnets to go on some old Mighty Beanz toys we had. Those were bigger 1/2″x1/4″x1/16″.  They are stronger, but not as strong as I anticipated. These magnets can hold 4 sheets of paper. Which is better, but not what I was anticipating when I wanted ‘strong’.

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These bar magnets are about the same strength as the big black ones that I bought at JoAnn Fabrics.  I considered them weak. I used them inside a small stuffed bunny head magnet a few years ago and it barely held up one paper through the fabric. The bar magnets, for their size are pretty strong. They are quite little compared to the black ones and hold the same amount up. I prefer the bar neodymium to the black ones.

My favorite ones are the ones I now use on my glass marble magnets. These 1/2″ x 1/8″ magnets can hold up 10 sheets of paper, no problem. For some reason the papers want to turn upside down when I fan them.


These are my favorites and the only ones I use now. Below are my results. This magnet is the 1/2″ x 1/8″ magnet, the one on the far right, and it has 6.6 pounds of force. To take this off the fridge you do have to give it a tug.


I am very happy with the 1/2″ x 1/8″ magnets. They are strong enough that you can’t wipe them off the wall, but not so strong that you pull off the marble that I attach to them.

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I was very surprised that the magnets stuck so well even placed backwards. I have an epoxy dome over the dragon picture and still the magnet was able to attach to the side of the lid. They are very strong.

I am very happy with the quality of these magnets and the amount of work they do. I like to show the differences because so few people realize how much size counts in this type of magnet.



DIY Pencil Holder: A rainy day kid craft

It’s very yucky and stormy out this afternoon. Here is a quick craft for kids of any skill level. I use a Crystal Light container, but any plastic container will do.

IMG_2900On the left of the Mod Podge is the new container and on the right is one that my daughter did when she was 10 or so. After 14 years we still use it


  • Mod Podge or glue. I pick up Mod Podge at the craft store with the weekly 40% off coupon you can find on their website. This is rarely on sale so it’s great for the coupon.
  • Sponge brush (any size)
  • Tissue paper. I like the pattern ones but it can be any color. A bunch of colors works/looks best to me.
  • Optional: Wax paper. I pour the glue onto it for easy peasy clean-up.

Time: About 20 – 30 minutes (includes clean-up)

IMG_2901Take the tissue paper and tear it into pieces. I think it looks better torn than cut. The torn edges seem to blend in better. Since this paper has white in it, I try to take out as much of the white as possible, to give it more color.

IMG_2902If you have some straight edges, those are great for the top and bottom of the container. It’s not necessary, but it is easier to line it up and keep it even.


I always like to lay out a piece of junk paper or newspaper down. I pour some glue out on wax paper so that clean-up is a breeze. By the way, this paper is the same paper I used for the bookmarks, painted side is down.

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Brush on the glue, it doesn’t need to be neat. You can put it on heavy or light. As you put on the papers, you can add more Mod Podge/glue, it helps to smooth and stick the papers onto the plastic. I put my hand in the container as I work around the sides. Sometimes it will bubble up or wrinkle. That’s called Texture, it gives the pencil holder character. If you’ve got too much character, just run your finger over it to smooth out the bubbles.  When you have all the pieces in place, make sure the entire piece is sealed by covering it in the Mod Podge or glue.

IMG_2913 Ta Da!


My favorite crafts for kids are ones that take very little time, skill and aren’t supposed to be perfect. I like crafts that are more abstract than making something concrete, like a dog. When I was a kid I’d have the image of the dog I wanted to make, and then I ended up staring at the blob-thing I did make. I wasn’t happy. These crafts are more about color and function. It gives kids a project that is useful, uses things destined for the garbage and it always ends up pretty and occasionally highly textured.