Writing in Wool

I've had it in my mind for awhile now that I wanted to make some sort of DIY Etch-a-Sketch. When I saw this touching slate that was designed as a tool for the visually impaired, I knew I had to make one. Using items from around the house and pulled from the recycling bin, this nifty little modified pen lets you draw with wool on a velcro-covered board. When you're ready to draw something new you just pull up the wool, crank it back up into the reservoir and start again.


Rectangle of Cardboard, I happened to have a piece that was about 14" x 11", which felt like a good size, but you can use whatever size you have (crayon doodles optional).
"Hook" side of Hook & Loop Tape, I used a full yard of some that was 2" wide. I would advise not using the Industrial Strength Velcro. The hooks on it are slightly different and, while it will work, it doesn't work as well as regular Velcro.
Duct Tape, any color
Empty Yogurt Container, I found Wallaby Organic's containers to be perfectly sized
Wool Yarn, about 2 yards
Wine Cork, the rubber-y (not actual cork) version works best
Bic Pen, with the innards and end removed
Piece of a Wire Hanger, about 5" long, bent to make a crank
Adhesive (if your hook and loop tape is not self-adhesive)

First, measure in an equal distance from each edge of your cardboard and draw a rectangle in the center. This is the area that you will cover with the hook tape. I found 2" in from each edge provided enough space to easily grip the slate on the edge.

Cut your hook tape to fit within this space. If it's self-adhesive, just pull off the backing and adhere. If not, use hot glue (or whatever adhesive you have handy) to stick the hook tape to the cardboard.

Next, finish the edges of the cardboard by covering with the colored duct tape. Start with the corners, then the edges, then the surface of the front, and finally the back. The slate is done!

Now, get out your drill. Using a bit that is just a hair smaller around than your wire hanger, drill two holes in the yogurt container, about 3/4" down from the top and directly opposite each other. Using the same bit, drill a hole all the way though the wine cork.

Switch out your drill bit for one that is just a hair smaller around than the pen. Drill a hole in the center of the bottom of the yogurt container.

Push, the pen through the hole in the bottom of the yogurt container. Thread the yarn through the pen.

Tie a nice, big knot in your yarn to prevent it slipping back through the pen.

Now, tie the other end of the yarn to the wine cork. Wrap the yarn around the cork.

Hold the yarn-wrapped cork inside the yogurt container, between the two holes. Push the crank through one hole, then through the cork, then through the hole on the opposite side. Your yarn pen is complete!

Press the pen to the slate and start to draw. The yarn will stick to the Velcro creating wool lines.

When your drawing is done, lift the pen to pull up the wool, turn the crank to wind it back into the reservoir and draw something new! Just like an Etch-a-Sketch you have to plan ahead for your drawing because you only have one continuous line to work with, but the possibilities are endless!


  1. This is SO VERY creative! Love it!

  2. ok, that is so cool. what a great idea. thank you so much for sharing!

  3. What an incredibly unique idea! Love it.

  4. Hello MacGyver! You rock, this idea is totally cool.

  5. What a fantastic idea! My kids will love this!

  6. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing it!

  7. Wow what a wonderful idea! Off to pin.

  8. I've just seen this on Prudent Baby, and I really love it! It's totally unique, I have never seen something like this before, and so clever. And just AWESOME.
    Thank you for sharing this!

    I also love your idea to built a rice play table. I guess, I built something like this, although my little daughter is already a little bigger (28 months), but she still love such activities. And I could change the content of the box at times, I really think she woul love it!
    I love it, how you describe, how much you love to see Silas play and having fun making a huge mess. Same with me: I always let our little love make as much mess as there needs to be, to be and get happy and creative, and clever.
    (Please forgive my terrible English.....;))

  9. great idea