MOTHER's Newspaper Column: Homemade Projects and Instructions

Learn how to make a Chinese finger trap, make suspended book shelves, jump start a car, bake rhubarb pie and make homemade taffy.

| January/February 1976

Back in the late summer or early fall of 1972 MOTHER EARTH NEWS began syndication of a newspaper column. Gosh knows we didn't need the extra work (we were already putting in 20 hour days, seven days a week just trying to keep the magazine coming out on a regular schedule). But we were given the opportunity to reach approximately 10 million people three times a week with MOTHER's ecology recycling do it yourself use less energy message. And we couldn't pass that up.

Of course, we had to sugarcoat our theme a little for the more general readership of the 115 newspapers that soon carried our feature. But that was a small price to pay, we felt, for the privilege of putting any down home approach to life in front of so many individuals in the age of Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Government.

Maybe you've seen how we handled the job, maybe not. At any rate, here's a few of the columns that have appeared around the country (and parts of Canada) during the past 40 or so months.

Finger Trap

If you have children, you know how difficult the last cold days of winter and the first slushy weeks of spring can be. The young'uns — impatient to get outside — become increasingly cranky, loud, and difficult to live with. And the adults of the household, suffering from cabin fever of their own, steadily wish more and more desperately for something — anything! — that will quiet the little dears for a solid fifteen minutes. And that's exactly what grandma's old-time finger trap is designed to do. The traditional toy is simple enough for a six year old to construct and devilish enough to capture the attention of a teenager.

FOR KIDS AND KIDS-AT-HEART ONLY: Cut a 6-by-12-inch piece of heavy paper as shown. Then, starting at the slitted end, roll it into a tube with an inside diameter of approximately one-half inch. Glue the joint, let it dry and then tell a friend, brother, or sister that you want to show him or her a "magic trick". Ask your assistant (or — heh, heh — victim) to stick both index fingers into the tube. Then ask him or her to pull them out. And, finally, listen to your victim howl when that proves impossible. (Click on the "Image Gallery" to see this and other instructions.)

AND BACK TO YOU PARENTS: So OK. The kids are screaming again. You did have your fifteen minutes of quiet (while the finger trap was being constructed), though, didn't you?

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