Jun 032012
 

Time to add to my collection of soft weights. I actually have more than I’ll ever need. But I don’t yet have any chipmunk weights . . .

These are so handy when you need to weigh down small or irregularly-shaped items as they dry. Not everything fits in a press or under boards or a brick. I often use these when making miniature books or boxes.

I originally found instructions on Pam Sussman’s Book Arts Studio blog. This is very similar, but with my own tweak or two.

Aside from some cloth, you’ll need some BB’s. As Pam recommended, I’ve been using the copper coated premium type. Lead buckshot is traditional. However, I’m thinking unless you like the idea of sacrificing for your art in the way of Caravaggio, it’s probably not recommended. [Actually, I believe these are lead-based as well, but coated. I wanted an excuse to insert the Caravaggio link.]

For each weight, you’ll need:

  • BBs as described above
  • 2-3 plastic Ziploc-style bags that are around 3″x5″ (7.5 x 13 cm) or 4″x6″ (10 x 15 cm)
  • Two pieces of fabric cut 1″ ( 2.5 cm) larger on the sides and about 1.5″ (4-ish cm) longer than your Ziploc-style bags

Place the fabric right sides together and sew around 3 sides using a 1/4″ seam allowance (my metric conversion says approximately .6 cm, but the 10 mark on my sewing machine gauge is the one closest. You non-Americans can probably figure it out.). I go over the seam 2-3 times to make sure it is really strong. Clip the corners and press the seams open. Tuck the open top down about 1/2″ all around and press. Turn right-side out.

Fill one of the Ziplocs with BBs. Make it full, but not too full and tight. The feel of a firm beanbag is good. Personally, I don’t care for the slight scent of the BBs. I also don’t trust one flimsy plastic bag not to tear. So after I fill up the Ziploc and firmly seal it, I tuck it inside another Ziploc the same size, top side down. This one here in the example is actually triple-ply. This makes your weight sturdier, and also insures that the slight aroma of BBs stays inside where it belongs.

Slip the filled sack of BBs into your sewn pouch. You could hand stitch it shut, but for laziness and durability I prefer finishing with a regular straight stitch on the machine. Like the other seams, I go over it at least once more. This will give you a nice solid weight that will feel like a heavy beanbag. This one here is 3 1/4 lbs (1.5 kg). The smaller ones in the first picture are more like 1 to 1-1/2 lbs (.5-.7 kg). Either size is handy for weighing down small and awkward items as they dry.

Ta da!