Wednesday, May 30, 2012

California Pottery? What is THIS!?

Okay, it's shiny, it's beautiful, it has the look and feel of California Pottery and yet I just can't figure out what to put into google to figure out what this is!

rounded with hole in the middle

It's round with a rounded base and a hole in the center.  I'm relatively certain it isn't a bird house, could be some kind of planter but that seems odd.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vintage Thermos Lamp

So one of the things I do to keep my toddler in togs is buying random things at thrift stores, yard sales, etc. and selling them.  I seek out the retro, the bizarre and the interesting.  On my latest venture out into the world of hillbilly thrift stores I found an old Thermos from 1971 with a really cool design on it.

Of course, step one of selling the things I find is figuring out how much they are worth so I did a search for vintage thermos and immediately found a bunch of LAMPS!  Yep, apparently people make lamps out of old thermoses, which is not really a surprise since I've been making lamps out of all kinds of random items lately.

  • crafty tip, in general, there is no need to buy a "lamp kit" at your local hardware store if you want to make a lamp since you can usually find used lamps for about $1 at your local thrift store and voila, you have a lamp kit!  Lamp kits are usually between $7 and $11 so you'll save some bucks if you like to make lamps!
So...instead of selling the Thermos "as is", I figured I would try my hand at making a lamp.  A word of caution, however, most older quality Thermos products have glass liners so eliminate the surprise factor if you are drilling through the plastic layer by using a punch instead, it's still a real pain to get the glass out though.

Not posting step by step instructions yet...since this was my first attempt and, while I think it turned out beautifully, I know I'll be simplifying the process before too long!

So I had an old lamp that I bought for $1, paid $1 for the thermos and $1 for the cost for this super cool retro lamp was $3!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Commissioned Soda Can Wall Hanging

So the bears are now awake, making the daily trip to the recycle bin quite risky...but having just completed my first really large piece and it's been worth the risk!

Since it's being shipped up to New York tomorrow I needed to take some pictures so I won't forget...and this one is hard to part with!  My lovely customer on Etsy originally sent me a photo of a flower that I believe is displayed on a wall outside an antique shop in South Carolina, the challenge was that the piece she showed me was made out of large steel paint cans and other large cans, and she wanted a 36" diameter piece made with soda cans.  I would say it turned out beautifully!

My challenge on the MacGyver end was to make this piece happen and keep it stable so that it could hang on a wall...materials varied from chicken wire, to gutter guard, to finally yardsticks and pizza pans!

I will post more pictures soon, and hopefully I'll have a picture to show once it arrives and is hung on it's new patio wall far to the North!

The other fantastic thing about this piece is that it comes apart and is able to ship in a golf club box or similar...this aspect of it is something I am especially proud of, as if I start making more of these, they will be in "kits" so that they can be assembled by whoever buys them and they will feel that they are part of the artistic process as well!  Whoopee!

I have been getting crazy with the soda cans of late...partially because I am able to make these things for little cost and I'm a bit broke lately, but also because there are so many different things to do with cans and it's so much fun (except for my aching hand from tin snips and can crushing!).

So for now, I'll roll the dice with those bears and keep it up with the cans...

This guy was at the top of my driveway the other day...

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Joy of Crafty Moms...Thanks Ann!

I was going through a box of my old things recently and came across a mug that was made for me.  When I was in 2nd grade, we moved from Atlanta to Philadelphia.  I very quickly made friends with a wonderful girl named Allie.  During the years to come (we only lived there for 4 years, but in elementary school that's a lifetime!) Allie and I spent many days and nights together.  Her mother was what I would call "super crafty".  Now, my mom liked to make things and put together creative collages and photo albums...but Allie's mom was truly a crafster.  She loved working with pottery, and was quite adept at the craft.  Over the years, she made my parents a planter that looked like our house and many other treasures.  This mug; however, is something I will treasure forever.  I think that it may be the first piece of art that was made especially for me and the impact will be felt for a long time.

These days, crafts are a big part of my survival and my ability to support my little family.  As I sit here at my craft table, a mug sits on my desk...with a mouse on one side (I used to have pet mice), and my name on the other.  It has inspired me to continue crafting since the time I first got to know a woman who was so important to me during that time of my life.  I am thankful that Allie Keech came into my life, and for her mother Ann.  They say that everyone you come across is a piece of your puzzle in some way...that God puts people there for a reason, and it really is true.

Thank you Ann (aka Mrs. Keech!).  You are truly a special person and an inspiration for crafty moms to strive for "super craftiness"!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another Thrift Store Mystery

Okay, file this one under, "what the heck is this" and pin it, tweet it and share it so I can solve this mystery.

Went to a little hole in the wall thrift store today run by a bunch of good old boys, as I was checking out I noticed this behind the desk, they jokingly told me it was a case for me to keep my tiara in, and admitted that they had absolutely no idea what it was.  They then proceeded to sell it to me for $1 if I promised to tell them what it was when I found out.  So here it is...

Show everyone, I've googled but it's hard to google when you don't really know what to google.  It has a sturdy metal handle and the whole thing is padded inside (you couldn't really put anything in it except maybe something breakable).


Thanks to my facebook friends, especially Sybille Petersen for solving this one!  It is apparently a Tea Cosy for carrying your teapot around without spilling it, hence the flat wooden bottom!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fascinating Find at the Goodwill

Often, I'm a sucker for picking up random crap that someone's kid made because I feel like those things are so precious and deserve to be loved.  That's what I thought I was doing today...but as I delve a bit further, I'm just not sure.

I remember when I was a child we did some sort of "family crest" project in art class.  This very well could be what this is...but again, I'm putting this out into the universe hoping that someone will see it and help me out.

Either way, let's go ahead and show you what I'm talking about...

At first glance, I thought it was a cute art project (and I'm still pretty sure that's what it is); however, after a little cuddling up with my buddy Google, the plot thickens a bit.  Additionally, once I started actually looking at the artwork (the dragon's face and proportions, etc.) it looked a bit more intricate than a kid's art project.

When I started researching, I kept coming up with pages in Spanish (thank God for Google Translate)...eventually I typed in all of the words on the piece and came up with something definitive that contained it ALL; however, this is only ONE website out in the world of Al Gore's internet which details the Escalante family crest during the 1500's. 

So I have sent photos off to a few folks and anxiously await any answer that will tell me anything about this!

Stay Tuned!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Great Bowling Ball Roundup!

So a while ago, I was doing my usual golf cart ride to the community dumpster and someone had thrown away a bowling ball...being unable to resist interesting looking garbage I threw it in the back of the golf cart with the thought of perhaps "sniper bowling" from my deck as they were thinning out the deer in my little community.  Then common sense took over and I decided I had better find a more responsible use for this new find.

So, as any logical person would also determine, the bowling ball must be turned into yard art!  A good friend of mine asked me to make her some for her yard...she went to Georgia Tech whose mascot is a bee so I made her a yard bumblebee in her school colors, using old screens for wings, upcycled copper posts for antennae with cedar closet balls on the ends.  I think he turned out just great!

With my newfound excitement for all things bowling ball, I started keeping my eyes open for bowling balls in thrift stores, etc.  On day ONE of my hunt, I walked into a thrift store and asked them if they happened to have any bowling balls...the girl looked at me like I was crazy and that perhaps I was messing with her as she walked me to the back of the store to show me this:

Pallet of Bowling Balls
Needless to say, there will probably be more bowling ball projects on the way!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kusudama Flowers and Ball with Maps!

So I picked up this German atlas book at a thrift store for about 75 cents...I love maps, and then I thought I could certainly upcycle this into something (or many things) more!

I started looking into paper folding, or as it's frequently called, origami.  I found instructions for these really awesome flowers...then to take it one step further, putting a bunch of the flowers together to make a ball.  I am pretty happy with the result. 

Very excited about this project, even though origami wouldn't normally have been something I would have even dabbled in!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Great project with Tin Container Lids!

Okay, this is kind of still a work in progress, however, if I don't share it now I might get busy with something else and forget!  I LOVE finding ways to recycle metal containers.  They are a lot more attractive than plastic containers for storage and sometimes they just need a little pretty-ing up.  One tried and true container is the Danish Butter Cookie tin...I find these every week in our recycle center.  A great thing about these is that the top is actually recessed.  I was thinking about what to do with them and went ahead and primed a lid yesterday.  Last night I was sitting at my desk with a random bag of stones and a hot glue gun next to me so I just proceeded to glue them to the lid.  I think it looks fabulous, although I feel that I might do more to it to seal it.

Here's the before picture, one that is pretty familiar to most...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Easy and Cheap Way to Polish Brass

Somehow I've developed a keen sense of brass...if there's something made of brass at an estate sale or thrift store, I'm drawn to it.  As a result, I end up spending more money on Brasso than I am on these items!

I found a GREAT replacement for Brasso and other costly brass polishes in an intensive web search which gave me everything from KoolAid to dirt...but this one I tried and it works (I would say better than Brasso; however I think that's just because I'm not having to use it sparingly!).

What you need:

That's IT!  Dissolve a teaspoon of salt into 1/2 cup of vinegar and then add enough flour to make it into a paste.  Smear it onto your brass...wait ten minutes...and wipe/polish off!

Remember to wait ONLY TEN MINUTES (lesson learned the hard way) because the flour/paste will harden and be a real pain to get off!

pretty sad looking BEFORE
Coated with the Paste Mixture


Random Find of the Day - Vintage Hair Accessories

So last week, I stumbled upon a combination liquidation sale/estate sale up here in Jasper.  The big fun was for Vivian, since they were trying to get rid of everything, she could utilize her "inventory" skills (i.e. removing everything from shelves/hooks, etc.) with little we went every day for three days!

One of the crazy and interesting finds of the day was an old set of hair curlers.  As I found random things, I often googled them to get more information, etc. but these I haven't found anywhere.  My initial thought was to use them for art projects...but rethinking this since they seem to be pretty rare.  Of course, I got them for practically nothing so it's no big deal if I do use them for something else but I'm going to try to find out more information first...

Along the same line, I also managed to acquire an antique metal and wood hair dryer...and since there are more of these "Eskimo" hair dryers out there, I'm probably going to be using this to make something and cleaning it up a bit.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Easter Bunny Racket!

So during Christmas, I found a tennis racket at the dumpster in my community (not like I'm diving in like a crazy bag lady or anything...but actually, if I saw the right thing in there....).  So I've figured out that if you look in the right place you can pretty much always get old tennis rackets for next to nothing at thrift stores.  Given that Easter is coming soon, I thought I'd get crazy and creative again with an old wooden tennis racket and made this:

I LOVE this even more than the Christmas racket and by the way, is it racket or racquet?  I've always spelled it in the latter way but I'm refocusing my alternatives in spelling to ease and understanding (meaning, given the choice between two variations, I'm gonna shoot for the easy one from now on!) but I digress...

This was not a very difficult project once I put together the MacGyver aspect of it in my head...and I think it's just about the cutest easter decoration EVER.  I'm going to make more and sell them on Etsy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dumpster Furniture Transformation!

So my 20-month old has recently become obsessed with "gons"...i.e.octagons, hexagons and pentagons...go figure!  A few weeks ago I was taking my trash to the dumpster of our mountain community and I happened upon one of those quirky hexagon tables from the 70's.  Junky pressboard, kind of falling apart...but I saw a challenge!  Some Kilz, some wood sealer, a bunch of pages from children's books (was able to get books that were missing pages, etc. from the local thrift store for close to nothing!), some fabric, ribbon, paint sample cards and flash cards and some polyurethane and VOILA!

This one takes a while...if only because you have to make sure to glue and mod podge the stuff onto it at a time and in a location where a toddler may not rip it off the next day!  It's a fun table, and she's already figured out that she can also use it as a tunnel!

Just another randomly salvaged piece of trash turned into a treasure.

And now for the transformation:


After filling in the lovely grooves and filling the parts of the pressboard that were coming apart, then coating with Kilz:


I think it's quite unique...and yet another testament to the fact that I might have too much time on my hands...OR perhaps I have found my true calling!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hooray for Soda Can Flowers!

So after much tinkering around, lots of Band-Aids, and multiple failures...I believe that I have found the formula for making beautiful, fun flowers out of soda cans!  It's the little things that do it for me...
It's a bit more complicated than my first go-rounds of just glue and can bottoms...but I LOVE the result.  I had seen some random other projects that made these, but they didn't have many petals and there wasn't a whole lot of variation.  I'm sure I'll make some "simpler" ones, but for now I am extremely pleased. 

Stay tuned for a tutorial, for now I'm just bragging!