Tackle the test: DIY edition

Do these back-to-school DIYs make the grade?


Addy Burwell

Whip out your DIY bookmarks for Harambe.

Addy Burwell and Cristina HImelhoch

DIY’s (or Do-it-yourself projects) have been popular for years as a way to make cool, exciting recipes, decor, or other accessories for a much lower cost. However, some DIY’s found on the website Pinterest–which is known for its plethora of easy-to-recreate projects–are notorious for not working the way they are supposed to. To save you some time, DIY experts Addy Burwell and Cristina Himelhoch decided to test some great back-to-school themed projects for your enjoyment and information.




Watercolor Notebooks [left]

The first DIY we decided to try was a personalized notebook, made to look like an impressionistic watercolor painting. The premise is simple enough–take a notebook with a cardboard cover, and draw on it with chalk to form a gradient of colors. After that, blend the colors together with a baby wipe and you can start taking notes for any class you want. While the initial cost of materials is only about $4, the end product supposedly looks like a beautiful piece of art.

As we followed the directions presented online, this DIY seemed to be a complete failure. After we used different colored chalk to draw on our design, the baby wipe seemed to completely erase all of the hard work we put into our beautiful rainbow inspired artwork. We ended up with extremely colorful baby wipes that appeared to look nicer than the actual notebook. Before the notebook dried, “it looked like a little kid had taken chalk and scribbled all over the notebook, then spilled water on it,” according to Cristina. We were surprised to find that after letting the notebook dry, a rainbow watercolor design appeared on its cover. The only problem we came across was that the since the cover of the notebook was cardboard, the baby wipes caused the page to wrinkle up. In order to make the notebook durable and hopefully last the entire school year, we laminated the cover with packing tape. Overall, this DIY proved to be a success.


Report card grade: B minus



Bookmarks [right]

It’s no secret that the school year involves a lot of reading, but way too often students fold over the corners of their precious English teachers’ books without any regard for the condition the next students will find it in. Bookmarks are a functional, accessible DIY for any person–even with a complete lack of arts and crafts experience. Bookmarks can also make the perfect gift for anyone, such as a friend, crush, or your favorite gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo. The instructions are almost impossible to mess up–cut out an 8 inch by 1.5 inch piece of scrapbook paper, personalize it with a fancy Sharpie marker, laminate your design with packing tape, and enjoy. But does it work?

This DIY was very successful and the easiest DIY that we attempted to recreate. Through following the simple directions of cutting out the paper, designing the bookmark, and laminating the final product, it was easily possible to create personalized and durable bookmarks. One of the best things about this DIY is that all of the supplies are easily accessible, inexpensive, and can probably be found in most households. Recreating this DIY allowed for us to personalize each bookmark and be extremely creative with our designs. Depending on how much time people have, they have the option to make simple or intricate designs. This DIY definitely worked and was very simple to recreate.


Report card grade: A+


Pumpkin Spice Latte [center]



School starts early, so it is no debate that some form of caffeine is definitely an essential for the school year. With the return of the PSL in sight, we decided to try our own hand at creating the iconic recipe. Theoretically, the end result should taste exactly like the Starbucks beverage, but it should be much cheaper than the original, and it will eliminate pesky wait times that everyone faces. Some strong coffee, milk, pumpkin, various spices, and a healthy dose of vanilla extract helped bring this recipe to life.

This recipe sounded so incredibly delicious and seemed to be able to produce the same results as the infamous PSL from Starbucks. But this recipe was truly and completely terrible. First of all, it took a very long time to make, and required several utensils and ingredients. At first, we looked past this small flaw because all of the ingredients made the kitchen smell like it was scented by a fall candle from Bath and Body Works. In the end, though, this recipe resulted in a latte that was extremely sweet to the point that it gave us headaches, one that had so much milk that the coffee taste was almost unnoticed, and one that didn’t taste at all like pumpkin. Addy even pointed out that “if you really like pouring vanilla extract down your throat, this recipe may be okay for you.” Other notes that can be used to describe the outcome of this recipe include “hints of gasoline, sand, and despair.” The PSL is supposed to taste like fall in a drink, but the recreation from Pinterest that we tested out did not remind us of fall at all.


Report card grade: F



Pinterest DIY’s have grown in fame over the past years for their quick, easy, and economic promises. But, as you can see, not all Pinterest DIY’s are 100% effective. Out of the three DIY’s that we tested, only one of them didn’t pass through our rigorous testing process. This turnout is actually surprisingly satisfying. We were doubtful that the watercolor notebook would work and hopeful that the PSL would turn out delicious. However, the watercolor notebook is actually the DIY that ended up working while the PSL was a sad excuse for a latte. Overall, this round of DIY’s gets a solid C average. As we tested out all of the Pinterest DIY’s, we determined that they are a hit-or-miss type of craft. If the right recipes are found, the result is worth the time and effort. Keep your expectations low though–not all of these DIY’s are star students.