Archive for the ‘repurposed’ Category

Decorative Jewelry Organizer
April 10, 2012

Lately I have been looking at a lot of jewelry storage online, getting ideas for a new project. Not only do I have a TON of jewelry that is always getting tangled up together, but I also have a bad habit of taking off my necklaces and rings and leaving them in various places, only to wonder where they are later. I really like this concept because it turns your jewelry into a sort of framed “art” while hanging, so it’s beauty can be enjoyed even when it’s not being worn. In feeding my recent Pinterest obsession, (which has shown no signs of subsiding) here are some great examples I have found: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

I had some time off work recently, and on friday I got a little frustrated with myself because I feel like I have been wasting this time off, and haven’t been very productive in the wake of the rush to get inventory off to my aunt’s store opening. On Friday, I sat down to make a list of weekend project ideas, and then made a shopping list, and set off for Goodwill and Home Depot.

This project set me back about $25, mostly because of the hardware. I bought a few hooks that I didn’t end up using, so I haven’t included them here, but otherwise, here is a breakdown of the cost:
Frame: $6.99 (used)
Mesh screen: $10, for 3’x5′ roll
1/8th” ‘s’ hooks: $7.49/100 (this seemed highly overpriced to me ūüė¶ … )
gold clip hooks: $3.99/100

here’s the before shot: jewelsplosion

I bought the frame at Goodwill – it appeared to be a fairly cheap, simple black frame. When I went to drill and staple into it however, we discovered it was actually made out of oak, which is a tougher wood to deal with. The issue with the frame is that you want it to be sturdy enough to be able to support the force of the mesh being stretched and stapled across it’s back, as well as the weight of the jewelry. It’s also important to consider how you will hang your frame, when deciding what style to use. I originally wanted to go with a decorative, beveled frame like this one, but I knew that I had a lot of jewelry to hang and I didn’t want to start off with such a heavy frame. I also wanted to keep it simple, so that the frame wouldn’t distract from the jewelry.

First, I gave the frame a few coats of a light blue spray paint.

Then, my dad helped me staple the screen to the back. This proved a little challenging… we couldn’t fit the screen on the inside of the frame, like where a picture and glass would nestle in. There just wasn’t enough space. So we fit it across the back, which left about a quarter inch of space all the way around.

We left a few inches around while we stapled, which allowed us to hold and stretch the screen, to make sure that it was evenly and taughtly attached. Next, we trimmed the screen down to size. This part was a little tedious, as the only way to trim the screen is to cut each individual bit with skinny trimmers. A word of advice, for anyone who attempts this project: These trimmed edges, no matter how carefully you cut, will still be able to scratch the hell out of you if you brush up against them. We could tell at this point that we would have to cover the back somehow, to prevent not only personal injury, but also to protect the wall.

(alternate post title: Dad Crafts 2012: Easter Edition)

Once trimmed down to size, my dad drilled holes along the bottom, so we could screw in some clip hooks, to hang rings.

Now that we were getting near finished, we assessed the inside gap between the frame and the screen. My dad ingeniously suggested I sew some little tubes of fabric, and glue them on the inside. The best part was that I didn’t have to worry about any seams showing, so it was a cinch to put together. I layered some cute flannel with strips of felt, and folded them into the gap with glue.

I had actually already decided to hang this display from the second towel rack in my bathroom, rather than worry about trying to find a nail strong enough to hold it on the wall. But just in case I decide in the future to hang it like an actual picture, and to protect from the deadly spikes of wire on the back, I glued strips of felt to the back of the frame. You can’t see this at all from the front, but it allows for a nice finished look on the back.

click to enlarge!

I originally intended to hang this from the towel rack with a large S hook, but the one’s I bought wouldn’t fit around the frame. Then I remembered that I had these clear plastic shower curtain holders, and they did the trick quite nicely. I added a third clip in the middle for reinforcement.

¬†Admittedly these little s hooks aren’t ideal – they look nice, and I prefer them to a hook that is attached more permanently to the board, but things must be removed fairly gingerly or else several pieces come falling off at once. These were the absolute smallest hooks I could find, and in fact they weren’t even hanging within the hook display at Home Depot – they were shoved underneath, and the package was taped, as if it had been kicked around for some time. It led me to believe they don’t typically make hooks this small or smaller anymore, and this was old product. If I do this kind of project again I will probably do some scouting for a better, cheaper hanger.

I really love how all my jewelry looks on here, and I think this will encourage me to vary my wear more, as I often get into the habit of wearing one piece repeatedly, when it is new and my favorite.

This… made me realize I have a TON of rings. This is not even all the rings I own! I do wish there was a way to display them so they are facing up, but I couldn’t think of any. Further development may be required….

Until next time!

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Refinished Vintage-Style Bookcase
March 27, 2012

I bought this bookcase last summer at a garage sale for $8. I don’t know exactly how old it is, but it is at least modeled in the style of mid century furniture, with the short, angled feet and the cutout on the top shelf. And it was certainly beat up enough to show it had been kicked around for 50+ years. I asked my brother for some help, as he is a professional house painter, and lately has been moonlighting as a “furniture flipper” on the side. It was pretty dinged up, so rather than try to sand out all the imperfections and refinish it, he suggested a bright coat of paint. He said he’d help paint it, and that we should use spray paint to get a smooth finish and avoid the lines that brushes leave in paint. At first I was skeptical, because I’ve seen many a shoddy spray paint job on larger pieces of furniture, completely uneven and graffiti’d looking. But he assured me that spray paint can actually create quality results, and he has a pretty steady hand.¬†I washed the bookcase and sanded down the dings as much as I could, and we went to pick out a color. I went back and forth on bright cherry red, mint green, or a medium shade of blue. Eventually I settled on¬†Krylon’s Indoor/Outdoor satin paint in Oxford Blue.

I¬†left it for him to work on when he had time, and about a week later he sent me a text message picture, showing his masterpiece work ! I thought it was really cute how he “staged” it in my parents house, with the doily and plant.

Here it is in my apartment – with a few touches of my boyfriend’s own decorating accents ūüôā It fits dvd’s perfectly! The spray paint really went on beautifully, and it has a nice sheen to it.

Tiny Terrariums
February 7, 2012

I have had this terrarium how-to on Handmadeology bookmarked for what seems like forever, and recently felt inspired while looking through the glass jars at Goodwill. I found the two larger ones for only a dollar each. Thrifting is the perfect way to look for terrarium cases because often you can find cool older glasses and jars, that may be faceted or in odd shapes. All you need is something with a lid – and if it comes with a rubber stopper attached to the lid to create a seal, as these two did, it is easy to remove with a small flat head screwdriver.

While the tutorial lists pea gravel OR sand as optimal water filters, I decided to use both because I really like the layered look. I got both the rose tinted pea gravel and the large granule sand at Lowes, where you can find all of the other necessary ingredients or any other home improvement store or garden center, like Home Depot. The moss is transplanted from my parents yard РI literally went out to their cement stairs with a fork and paper plate, and carefully peeled back chunks of moss. (Had to navigate around a few baby slugs D: ) It was especially ideal because the moss was already damp and ready to go. The deer figurine and chunk of amethyst I found recently at a part hobby, part antique store out at the beach. The other tiny agates and alligator and mice figures I had lying around my craft room.

Once I made the two larger glasses, I just wanted to keep going!  I found the smaller bottles amongst my supplies left over from a previous project. I actually really like the smaller bottles, I think they would be a perfect project for a younger crafter, or to give as a gift.

The beauty of this project is that it cost me under $12 for all the supplies, and each terrarium took me less than 15 minutes to complete. It’s pretty hard to mess up, too – the layers look even better when they are uneven terrain, and the moss can stack or squish up. They are super cute as decoration or tabletop focal points, and need minimal attention.

A few things to keep in mind:

– don’t fill your jar up too high, because you want to be able to look at it from the side to see the scene, rather than having to remove the lid and look down.

– it’s much easier to add than it is to take away – especially with narrow mouthed jars, it’s difficult to reach your hand inside to pick things out or rearrange. Once you start your layers, you can’t really tip the jar over to remove excess dirt or rocks, or else everything will mix. Add slowly, and use a chopstick or pencil to nudge things around and arrange as you go.

– less is definitely more here – I limited myself to two items per terrarium, apart from the natural elements. ¬†You don’t want anything to appear squished, and with more space, the placement of charms becomes more deliberate.

– I have noticed it’s a little difficult to water them, especially the tall skinny jar, without dumping water all over everything. A small eye dropper or a turkey baster used sparingly will come in handy here.

Repurposed Vintage and “Inspired” Findings
July 10, 2011

¬†A new interest lately has been creating adjustable rings using vintage clip-on earrings and other jewelry findings. ¬†I always love the super gaudy, huge beaded and rhinestoned vintage clip on earrings, but not only do I have pierced ears, I also have really tiny lobes and those things tend to look gargantuan on me. ¬†So I found another way to use them! ¬†I’m much more of a cocktail ring type of girl myself, I think most of the time larger jewelry looks better on fingers than it does on ears. ¬†I have more of the vintage earring rings I haven’t photographed yet, I’ll post them as soon as I do.

I also came into these really great disc brooches with beads and velvet, that had come apart from their backings. with a little imagination, I was able to turn them into some pretty fabulous cocktail rings! I really love these, ¬†and it’s going to be hard to part with them, but I’ve just listed a few of them on etsy if you’d like to take a look at some more pictures.

The Sexy Librarian Fanclub
July 9, 2011

click to view larger!

Some of my most coveted collected items belong in my vintage glasses frames collection. I started this stash a few years ago, but have always been completely obsessed with vintage frames. I can spend literally hours looking at frames online. After much lamenting and google searching, I bought my first pair of black lenses¬†from a website* called Allyn Scura around 2004 or 2005. Those trusty “female Buddy Holly”s lasted me up until a few months ago. ¬†¬†I recently became¬†eligible for¬†eye-care¬†insurance again, and came into a little money after receiving a settlement from my car accident, so I treated myself to three new pairs of frames from Hollywood Vintage in SE Portland and took them to my eyedoc to get filled.¬†¬†The process is surprisingly simple!

Anyway, vintage frames have always been on my radar at antique stores/expo, junk shops, and garage sales. ¬†All of the frames pictured above came in some form of second hand, with the exception of the ones I have prescription lenses in. ¬†(In general the frames that I collect are used/have someone else’s magnifiers installed, while the ones I wear are NOS, or New Old Stock. This means they are vintage, but technically “new”, as they’ve never been used. Such a label comes with a much higher price point, and less stranger’s face grease.) ¬†I kept my old frames in a cigar box, and brought them out to show friends, but the box started to get beat up and soon I had too many frames to keep it closed. Displaying collections (see: my take on the Wunderkammer) is something that is really¬†intriguing¬†to me, and I think is often what defines the thin line between collecting and hoarding.

I had the idea for this elaborate glasses display for quite some time – it took a bit of reworking my ideas, but the end result I think is pretty damn rad. This was a project I ruminated on for a while, and then went to my dad with my ideas. My dad is the kind of guy you can ask to construct anything, and in 10 minutes he will come back with an intricately designed plan. He is also a huge inspiration in the sense that he can make something out of literally anything – or nothing.

This case actually started out life as a somewhat unfortunate looking display box for “trinkets” that I bought at Goodwill, and used for a while to store “random crap I’ve crocheted”:

The frame and top shelf have this awesome bevelled edge, which was the main reason I thought this would be the perfect body for a glasses display. The weirdly shaped-and-spaced guts were added in later I believe, specifically to fit someone’s collection.

I didn’t take any production pictures, but over the course of a few weekends, we worked on the box. Dad cut a new back piece that was thicker than the original plywood, and we covered it with a thin piece of foam plus purple velvet. ¬†It took us a while to figure out what kind of hangers to use for the glasses so that they would be evenly spaced and float away from the back of the frame to get dimension, but that wouldn’t distract from the display. Eventually we decided to use electricians wire, which is copper and coated with a thin plastic covering. I wrapped each peg in purple yarn, and added a dot of purple hot glue to cover up the end, so that they all matched the backing. The electricians wire was also a pretty genius choice because I can bend it to meet the specific needs of each pair of glasses – some need to hang higher, or have their pegs wider apart, and this allows me total freedom with that.

We ended up keeping in the top shelf, partly to help stabilize the frame, and partly because I loved that edge and didn’t want to get rid of it. I am thinking about adding a little mirror to the top, because now that the frames are displayed they just beg you to try them on and fluff up your bouffant. I also want to use the shelf to display vintage glasses accessories like the little rhinestoned pin you see in the first pic, or glasses that won’t hang up.¬†I wanted to display my bespectacled spaghetti poodle (1st piece of a new collection???????) on top, but the shelf turned out to be too narrow so she’ll just have to be satisfied with chilling close-by.

you can’t tell, but she’s winking!

*                    *                    *                    *

Another website I absolutely love to browse is Vintage 50s Eyewear on Etsy, which gets updated once a week and each frame is more fabulous than the next.

Click here to view my favorites on Etsy – unfortunately I can’t sort them to only show my favorite frames, but if you flip back through the most recent 10 or so pages you will see a ton of frames that I couldn’t stop drooling over. Most of them are now sold, but I like to keep them in my favorites to admire back on, and swoon over, every few months.

*I’m not necessarily a huge advocate for buying online, as vintage frames are often quite eccentric – and a good fit (both size-wise, and shape) is important, but I was able to pick a relatively simple style for my first pair and my optometrist helped me to choose from the two measurements available on the site. It helps that they have a decent exchange policy, which is something I would definitely¬†recommend¬†checking out before buying anything of the sort online. ¬†But keep in mind, trying on a TON of different styles and knowing you have many great, fitting choices is half the fun of getting new glasses!

“Masculine, Feminine” Book Project
September 30, 2010

This is a book project I did in my junior year at Mills for my class, “The Artist Book In A Gendered Space.”* In it’s tag, it is listed as a self-proclaimed “unique artists book made of woven metal sheets, wire, hinges, balsa wood, paint, small pleasingly touchable things, and lots and lots of glue gun.”¬† The assignment was pretty conceptual; what I was going for was an interesting juxtaposition of supposed “feminine” things (scraps of lace, ribbon and fabric, buttons, a key, rick rack, rhinestone hair pins) confined within a “masculine” space (the solid frame, metal structure, little to no color or frills.)

At the time I was becoming very interested in resin and testing what I could and couldn’t embed in it.¬† I originally intended to pour resin into the frames to suspend all the objects, but it proved to be harder than I thought to figure out how to create a sealed tray for the resin to stay within.¬† I like that embedding things in resin makes them like a tiny display, even when they aren’t surrounded by a frame or put in a traditional setting where it is obvious that you are supposed to “view” them.¬† I think even without the resin, the frames are pretty successful at making it obvious that this is not merely a book with pages, but more like a collection of “works” held together with binding.

I bought the metal screen in the clay molding section at Michaels, and folded pieces into crude pages.  I used some tiny metal hinges and wire to bind the book, and I painted balsa wood black and formed frames for the pages.

This book was featured in an exhibit put on by the class, shown here outside the book art studio at Mills.¬† There were a few places on campus open to the department where we were able to set up our work for display, which was really exciting.¬† This exhibit was called “Rendered Gender”.¬†¬† Each exhibitor wrote an artist’s statement to accompany their book in the case (you can read mine by clicking the link at the top of the page.)¬† My senior year I also took an independent study on book art where we learned how to curate a book art show, and all the special nuances that go along with displaying books and other 3D works of art.

*This class was, I believe, where the previously mentioned “period book” came from.

Aunt Trista’s Works of Art
August 17, 2010

up til last year, this was my bed.

My Great Aunt Trista was a very talented crafter, and I’m proud to say I get some of my tastes and talents from her. We have many of her handiworks in our christmas decorations, including tiny crochet snowflakes like these (not my image) which she would pin to a board and coat with glue to stiffen, and these wonderful ornaments. A few years ago I pulled them out of seasonal boxes and decided they were too beautiful to only be seen once a year. Here are two ways that I displayed them in my room: tied to my canopy bed, and tacked above a high doorway in an old dorm room.¬† I’ve tried to recreate the ornaments, which she made by covering styrofoam balls with silky fabrics and pinning old jewelry, trims, and sequins to, but I couldn’t get them to look nearly as good as she did. She made so many ornaments that she was able to give many out to my dad’s entire family, as well as decorate her own tree entirely. As I get older I’m really sad I wasn’t able to know her more closely growing up, she passed away when I was young and I only have a few memories of her at holiday parties. She was a very talented and classy woman!

two other really great things she made: framed “scenes” of vintage jewelry formed to look like bouquets of flowers. She had a collection of jewelry to die for, I believe she went to garage sales and scavenged for old jewels. The great part of these kinds of projects is that you can use broken or old jewelry and repurpose it, giving it new life. I have this vague memory of going to someone’s house, it may have been her or maybe not, but I remember in the doorway a framed piece, 3-4 feet tall, and it was in the shape of a Christmas tree.. made entirely of old brooches. WOWW!

Yarn Grab-bag, & Tribute to An Unknown Talent
July 20, 2010

On a recent scouring of Goodwill, I found this bag of yarn for $8. The craft aisle at GW is usually hit or miss, there’s either nothing good, or a lot of things I want but have to limit myself.. this was one of those rare, good times.

Based on several bags of expensive, beautiful yarns, and half finished projects – some with the needles still attached, like below – I can only deduce that a great crafter either randomly threw in the towel and dumped all their projects into the Goodwill bin… or she passed away and her belongings were scattered to second hand shops. Unfortunately I had to limit myself for lack of funds, but there was a ton of great stuff.

I chose this bag specifically for the thinner, sport weight yarn it had. This kind of yarn is really great for projects like embellishments and special touches. There are tons of great colors, especially the variegated yarns. Also, most of the skeins with tags on them are foreign! I think Swedish. Most look vintage, and it’s all wool, high quality.

These two projects came inside the bag, still attached to their yarn bundles. This one still has the needles and stitch markers attached!¬† The only way I would abandon a project like this is out of frustration… people just.. don’t knit like this anymore. The stitches and carry-overs – just looking at it is enough to make my head spin. wowwww!! I’m so impressed with this work. I think I can safely say I could never do a project like this, especially as it seems to be the startings of a sleeve, so there was a whole intentional sweater involved here. I’m just speechless.

Another really beautiful abandoned project. The colors are just amazing! This one was pulled off it’s needles, so it could unravel at a mere breath.¬† I’m planning to save these beauties and repurpose them into something I can use – for the second, I’m envisioning a small change purse or drawstring sack. Since I have the original yarns, I can just slip the stitches back on a needle and cast off with one round.¬† I can’t decide what to do with the first project, any suggestions?

Vintage Photo Slide Window Hangs
May 5, 2010

click the image to see it larger and detailed!

On one of many exciting trips to Oakland’s East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, I dug through a huge drum of old photo slides and picked out some fun vacation shots from the 60’s and 70’s.

I used a pin to poke holes in all 4 corners and sewed the slides together, and made these really charming window hangs! So easy, and made entirely out of recycled and thrifted supplies.