Antique Apothecary Vase

In my DIY Junk Thanksgiving Cards I posted one card using the label of an antique apothecary bottle I was given (translation: told to throw in the garbage) because it was quite badly cracked.

I had other plans.

I can’t find the before photo, but when I do I’ll post it. But as you’ll see there was absolutely no reason to toss this little treasure in the trash.

Martha Stewart popularized the idea of repurposing antique apothecary bottles as outdoor lights by filling them with lamp oil and wicks. But that wouldn’t work for me because of the cracks.

We’ve all been in Pier 1 and Winners and such and seen the bottles used as vases for dried flowers. That’s what I needed to do.

To help disguise the cracks I mixed up a batch of homemade chalkpaint but added a lot of extra Plaster of  Paris to make it really soupy.  I wanted the dried paint to be very textured.

apothecarybottle1  It took 3 good coats of goopy chalk paint but the cracks are only visible if you know they are there and look hard for them.

I added some dried hydrangeas that I spray painted earlier in the summer…

I am lovin’ it on my nightstand.

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Since posting this I found another great apothecary bottle vase project at Knick of Time – check it out!

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Duo Repurpose for Binocular Case

Does watching the Hoarders tv show make you nervous? Me, too.

So, I’m resolved to selling or consigning or donating all of the projects I’ve completed that are crowding my life a bit uncomfortably before doing any more junking.

Last night I did a curbside pickup of a seatless, bashed up but cute adult bicycle. It would have been a cute garden planter, but for a couple of years on Car Free Day and Bike to Work Week I have fantasized about creating a refreshment station: baskets  filled with fresh fruit and granola bars (donated, of course) on the handlebars and where the seat would otherwise be. Paniers filled with cold drinks.

You get where I’m going…environmental benefits on so many levels. The bike I picked up last night would have been perfect, BUT I would have been tripping over it for the next 6 months. I’m proud to say I took it back this morning.

This binocular case is an example of the slippery slope to hoarding. I’ve had it for years. When it came to me it no strap and my original plan was to get a new, longer than normal strap and use it as a purse.

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Never happened. And over time it got too bashed up to use for that particular purpose. But leather items like this are not recyclable, so the kindest waste management method is reuse or repurpose.

It could have been used for a funky storage container… anything that you can put stuff in can be used for storage.

But in these last days of Indian summer my thoughts turned outdoors.

Surrounded as I am by my hydrangea haul, I saw cute autumn wreath potential. I used a length of jute to replace the leather strap and stuffed it full of Hydrangeas and end-of-season Lavender.

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The wreath was short-lived.

Fall weather means it is time to get out our birdfeeders and help our migrating birds fatten up a bit for their long flights, and let our feathered friends who will winter with us know where the cafeteria is going to be.

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Now that the lid is down you can see what I mean about this case being a little the worse for wear…

I drilled a hole near the bottom of the case.  I don’t always like to have a catch basin for seed that falls out. There are a lot of ground feeding birds, and I’m fine with squirrels and the occasional raccoon helping themselves to some nuts and seeds. They’re all God’s creatures.

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This feeder is going to a seniors’ housing complex. This particular complex doesn’t permit pets, but most of the residents love critters. There are three “stray” cats that have patrolled the grounds for a year or more, and many of the residents have some kind of bird feeding, even if it is just scattering seed on the ground.

I think they are going to love the idea of spoon feeding the birds

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The clasped lid keeps the seed inside clean and dry, and it seeps out as the spoon empties.

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Autumn Teacup Wreath

I just couldn’t stand to see these antique Royal Albert Crown China (Devonshire Lace pattern – 1930s) teacups thrown away – even though they had cracks on their insides.

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They were a Craigslist freebie – the ad said if no one replied by that evening they were going in the trash. I couldn’t bear the thought.

Among other considerations, these types of dishes cannot go in our recycling bins. They go to landfill.  No way!

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So I gathered some autumn rust coloured hydrangeas (yes – I cheated and added a couple of Dahlias for filler because I temporarily ran out of hydrangeas and have to wait for more to start to dry – too hard to handle when they are fresh fresh) from the garden and made a teacup wreath.

But you get the idea.  Not including the harvest and drying of hydrangeas, this project took a whopping 15 minutes to make and cost nothing (I used a grapevine wreath that I had on hand. I bought 3 for 75 cents at a yard sale a year and a half ago but I have used them several times already).

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10 Junk Altered Autumn Cards

Old lace, fabric scraps (including the seams that are of no use as dust cloths!), old buttons, belt buckles, bottle caps, corn husks, candy wrappers, old keys and broken jewelery pieces…

When most people do a cleaning purge such items go the trash.  With me they go on cards.

I recently took the opportunity to get a jump on my holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas) cards.   Boy I  had fun!

I’m getting a lot more confident in my multi-material play at the same time.

And since the cards frequently include something more, I pulled out to include with my cousin’s card this antique autograph book that belonged to our  Grandma.

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I enjoy the benefits of the internet as much as the next guy. But I swoon over hand-written cards  and letters.

I don’t receive a lot these days, but here’s a sample of what my family and friends can look for in their mailboxes over the next few weeks.

 

 

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Rustic Engagement Sign

This wonderfully bashed-up trumpet is not new to this blog. And the door from a 200 year old Quebec cupboard is not new by any measure.

But they are new together, like my 58/63 year old friends who just got engaged.

They wanted to keep it quiet – it’s not the first time for either of them.

But I convinced them to have a little soiree to share their happy news and made this for the occasion.

And it all comes apart very easily (no chalk paint here – just regular latex that will scrub off fairly easily within a few days), so the pieces can live on to trumpet other occasions.

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Candlesticks from Repurposed Lamp Parts

I have one board on Pinterest for ideas for items created from lamp parts. It has hundreds!

One of my personal favorites is candlesticks (maybe “candlestands” because I don’t limit myself to posts or “sticks”)

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For example, this pair of Art Deco-style light shades make great candle holders and would look fabulous on a dinner table dressed to create a certain sleek look like a New Year’s Eve Buffet

This rustic-looking candlestick came from a lamp I bought at a Thrift Store for the shade. The stand was a hideous (IMHO) colour so I grabbed a cloth I had used to wipe up a paint spill and invented a new (to me, at least) paint technique – the swipe.

I got distracted when I went to get a clean paint brush and when I got back it had dried like this. A kind of self-distressed thing. I liked it.

And since I’ve started this candlestick pairing thing (whole new line of interior décor), I would use this when serving hearty Irish Stew and rustic, whole grain loaf.

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The oldest  and my favorite of these candlesticks is this gorgeous metal pillar. I bought the lamp for $8 at a thrift store with this result in mind. It was the first time I single-handedly dismantled anything electric and it took a long time.

But you learn with experience – and in addition to still having parts available to use on other projects, I have used this candlestick on indoor and outdoor tables and in the garden (and it doubles beautifully as support for a fruit basket or cutting board with cloche). But most of the time it lives on my bedroom nightstand.

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And, of course, to really appreciate a candlestand, the candles should be lit, right?

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Altered Card Tutorial

When I posted my Adventures in Altered Cards and Books I was asked to provide some “how to”.  So here we go.

You know those drug commercials on tv that say “people with addictions may be at risk for abusing this drug”?

I think it is only responsible of me to offer a similar warning: if you have ever looked around your studio (which tends to become your entire home) and thought you were one pallet shy of being a full-fledged hoarder approach the making of altered cards and journals with caution.

They are wildly addictive. They are soooo fun to make, and because there is no template they provide a great opportunity to explore the depth of your creativity.

The best part is the reaction you will get from loved ones. In these days of email, texting and facebook messaging, receiving a card in the mail is special. Receiving a handmade work of art blows people away.

These cards don’t get thrown away once they’ve served their purpose. And that is a good place to start.

I use old cards – of every shape and size. Because I do a lot of these, I need a lot of cards so I ask close friends and family members to give me their cards that would otherwise get chucked. I’ll explain in a minute how to deal with the written messages in used cards.

I keep an old cookie tin on top of my filing cabinet and throw old cards in there until I’m ready to use them. It’s ideal to have a variety of sizes (you may have a piece of fabric or scrapbook paper that you know a particular friend would love and it’s great if you have a card that will fit it. But of course you can also use any cardstock or lightweight cardboard like cereal boxes to make a base card.

I begin by gathering together a bundle of materials I plan to use. Fabric, ribbon, buttons, vintage paper, bits of jewellery & other embellishments.

The last card I made included a fabulous piece of rust that I had been saving for months. Inspiration for a card can come from anywhere. Answer that knocking.

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I lay the card out on its back (several cards in a row for large-scale card-giving occasions like Christmas and Valentines).

Then I paint the interior with homemade white or cream chalk paint (2/3 paint, 1/3 plaster of paris). It covers any writing and gives a sumptuous texture to the interior. Allow it to dry completely.

Next I apply a generous coat of modge podge (fabric glue works great, too) to the entire outside of the card, being sure to apply right to the edges and corners.

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While the modge podge is still wet lay it onto the fabric you want to use as base. You can see here how I worked with 2 cards – if you have a lot of cards to make, it is most efficient to do them in small batches.

NOTE: lay the card on the backside (i.e. lighter) of the fabric so the best side will be the visible base of your card)

almacardtutorial5  Let it dry thoroughly.

Then I use scissors (the sharper the better) and cut to the edge of each card.

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I feel like a hypocrite saying that: I own about 10 pairs of scissors and not one of them is sharp. Inexcusable. I live 2  blocks from a professional blade sharpener.  I tell myself I love the ragged edge, but you can see the result of using dull scissors.

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Then the real fun begins. I start playing with layers.

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I’ve made lovely cards with only 2 layers and those with as many as 9 or 10 layers.

Again, I use a range of adhesives: hot glue, modge podge (commercial and homemade) and fabric glue.  They all work pretty much equally on fabric, but you may need something stronger (like E6000) for heavier embellishments.

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On this card I have 8 levels including the dried roses (real – from my garden – not silk)

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I hope my cousin Alma likes it.

A final caution: if you find you love making altered cards like I do, try to resist the urge to prolong greeting hugs so you can rub your friend’s shirt fabric between your fingers.  And most of all, try to resist checking out buttons on your friends’ clothing.  You may have to explain if a person you are talking to crosses their arms and gives you a dirty look.

 

 

Follow Your Hearts

followyourheartaOnce upon a time it was a wicker headboard. By the time I rescued it from next to a dumpster it had no legs – but loads of promise.

I thought it would make a nice piece of wedding décor so I gave it a couple of coats of white spray paint. Then I got a long bristled paint brush and a dish of homemade chalk paint and tried to get into all the grooves the spray paint couldn’t reach.

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I tried it over my bed. It kinda fit with my rustic country furniture.

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But in the end I went back to the original plan. I attached a picket that came from a gate my neighbours were hauling to the dump (after scrubbing and painting it, of course).

Then I applied some lettering to make it more welcoming. I could see it being used for a wedding or engagement party or really any event or facility where the guests might need a little direction.

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Soup Can Door Hanger

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Going through old photos the other day I found this soup can vase. It was made before you could simply download vintage labels from the internet. I think I got this one from an antique magazine or book and had to go to Staples to get a colour photocopy.

I hadn’t discovered all the fancy adhesives that we now have easy access to. If I remember correctly this is scotch taped on the back.

I used a hammer and nail to punch holes for the twine.

And I ALWAYS have daisies in my garden.

Aside from the drive to Staples it took about 5 minutes to create this sweet little door hanger.

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