The Opposite Of Spring: Halloween And The Day Of The Dead- My Fascination With Sugar Skulls

Autumn has always been one of my favorite times of year.  Although you may not agree, In my world everything tastes better when mixed with pumpkin.  There is nothing more refreshing than a cool breeze after months of summer heat and most of all it is host to one of my favorite holidays: Halloween.  As much as I hate to admit it I have a macabre side. (Many of us do or holidays like Halloween wouldn’t exist) Halloween hosts many ghouls and goblins and makes fantasy come to life for a day.  It’s a fun time but an even more interesting cultural tradition that coincides with Halloween is The Day of The Dead.  For those of you who may not be familiar it is a Mexican Holiday celebrated all across the world. It was originally celebrated in Summer but was moved to Autumn in more modern times and coincides with the Roman Catholic triduum festival of Allhallowtide: All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. A three-day celebration beginning on October 31st, It is celebrated as a tribute to departed souls and to show respect and remembrance for deceased family and loved ones. According to Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature author

” On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations”


Representations of Catrina, one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico

© Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons

One such decoration placed on these alters are called Sugar Skulls.  I have always been fascinated with the sugar skull image.  Each are unique much like the soul itself.  An image of a skull adorned with colorful flowers and hypnotic eyes instantly fascinated me.

In the spirit of Fall and the Halloween/Day Of The Dead tradition.  Here are three fun sugar skull decoupage projects:

Sugar Skull Mini jewelry Tray


I picked up this miniature wood jewelry tray (unfinished ) at AC Moore.  I hand painted the piece with acrylics and matched the primary color to the greenish-blue color on the print. (yellow, pink or black would work also) It looks great for Halloween or keep it out all year-long on your dresser. Great for holding various jewelry, rings or change.  Cut print to size, apply Mod Podge and then the print. Carefully smooth out with your hands.  Once dry  seal with a few layers of Mod Podge allowing to dry between coats.

Day Of The Dead Miniature Wooden Suitcase Trinket Box



This adorable wooden mini suitcase also purchased unfinished at AC Moore follows the same decoupage process as above. I used the suitcase to trace the image on both sides of the piece to assure it was cut to proper size and shape.  Hand painted inside and out, this would sit beautifully on a day of the dead alter filled with flowers or trinkets. The bright color captures the spirit of both Halloween and The Day Of The Dead.

Sugar Skulls Light Switch Cover


I am a firm believer in the fun a decorated light switch cover can bring to a room.  I like to think of them as “little canvases”  It can be fun switching them to reflect the holidays as well.  Decoupage light switch covers are both easy and fun to create.  First ,you trace the cover with a pencil, including the area that the switch passes through.(You can use prints, scrapbook paper, napkins, old gift bags just to name a few) Using an X-Acto knife carefully follow the tracing.  Apply Mod Podge to the plain light switch cover carefully smooth out the image you want to use.  Apply multiple layers of mod Podge and allow to dry thoroughly between layers.

Decorative, and full of color Sugar Skulls are full of life certainly Ironic considering it is a celebration of the dead.

Stay Safe and Have a Happy Halloween!


What’s Old Is New Again: Decoupage TV Trays Are Back!!!

The wooden TV tray.  A functional piece of furniture.  Although I think we can all agree these tables are useful, but they lack the design qualities seen in other pieces of furniture.

TV Tray before

Way back in 2013, I came up with an idea to turn these boring tables into something fun.  My first tutorial Decoupage Team Sports Trays explored the option of decoupaging these trays with Mod Podge.  It was a huge success and since then, It remains one of my most requested items.


They also make wonderful gifts for the sports fan in your life! Recently I made two new tables. Both were gifts, one for a friend’s birthday, and the other was presented as a Christmas present.   Nothing new here, but thought I would share the new additions so you know what I have been up too!


Philadelphia Flyers TV Tray


New York Giants TV Tray

Want to See more?  Check out these past blog entries on Decoupage TV Trays!

Have a special someone on your gift list that is a sports fan?  Then this is the table for you…

Sports Trays…Revisited!

Yankees Decoupage Sports TV Tray

Washington Redskins Decoupage TV Tray

Want to show off your school pride?  TV trays are great for doing homework too!

Smells Like Team Spirit! 


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Not a sports fan? No school spirit?  No Problem!  There are many other themes you can use to create a personalized tray table.  LP liner notes make great decoupage and are unique!

Rescued Vinyl TV Tray Decoupage



On The Upcycle Shop- Now Open On Etsy!


This Month, “On The Upcycle” has launched a small shop on Etsy!

On The Upcycle Shop will feature small decoupage items with additional items coming soon!  Each item is handmade and priced to sell!  Be sure and check us out and check back often!  Items will be featured as they become available. This month I am featuring various stained and painted wooden trinket boxes.


These lovely boxes have metal hinges and magnetic enclosures.  Sizes and styles vary.

Stay tuned: On The Upcycle has a few interesting projects on the horizon. I have picked up a couple of really nice chairs,  and a beautiful early century window with multi colored glass I am eager to start. Hope everyone is enjoying there summer so far!

To visit the OntheUpcycleShop on Etsy—-Click Here!


Where is Summer? The Birds Are Angry: Decoupage Kids Craft Bird House

It hasn’t felt much like summer over here.  The pool is up, the flowers are planted and beginning to blossom, but it is 52 degrees and the rain is cold! I am left to ponder the question, where is summer?

The good news: Rainy days are a great time for kids crafts.  All the more reason to plan a project the toddler apprentice and I could accomplish together.  The little one loves to watch The Disney Collector on You Tube. The DC Collector has become a bit of an internet phenomenon among the five and under crowd, and my daughter is no exception.  She enjoys watching those carefully manicured hands opening and revealing various toys and treasures. It was while watching these videos my daughter discovered her love of Angry Birds.  The birds must be angry that the weather has not been cooperating!  They could sure use a house I thought to myself!

I also thought decorating a bird house would be fun project to do together. I purchased an unfinished,  wooden bird house at Joann Fabric.  They were on sale for .99 cents.


I then went online and downloaded some Angry Bird images.  You can use character stickers if a printer is not available.


I cut the images out with a pair of scissors and placed them aside.


We painted the bird house together using red and blue acrylic paint.  It required two coats.  We then placed the painted bird house aside to dry.


Once it was dry, I used Outdoor Mod Podge to apply the images to the bird house.  I then added a layer of Mod Podge over top of the image. Although Outdoor Mod Podge provides added protection from the elements, if left out it will eventually weather.  I added a coat of polyurethane to provide additional protection and prolong the life of the bird house.


Once the bird house was dry we used a “C” Shaped hook like this one to hang it.  Lets hope that now that our little backyard friends have a place to call home, they won’t be such “Angry” little birds anymore….

Materials Needed:

Unfinished Wooden Bird House

Angry Birds, images or stickers

Outdoor Mod Podge

Red and Blue Acrylic Paint

Clear Polyurethane (optional)

Paint Brushes/Scissors

C Shaped Hook (For Hanging)


Crazy for Corduroy: Girls Flower Power Decoupage Side Table

It has been a very hectic week in the “On The Upcycle” household.  I have been working late into the night to prepare for my first flea market this Saturday.  I am happy to report, that my crafting area is looking more like a usable work space, and less like a storage closet!  My hope is clearing out some older items will make way for new projects.

I have also been working on a few projects specifically to use in the sale.  I picked up this nice, wooden side table at Goodwill for a couple of dollars.


The original idea, was to use a black and white scarf I had for the decoupage and then paint the table with neutral colors.  It is amazing how quickly a plan can change!  I used a white, spray on primer to prepare the table.  I applied the scarf and instantly was not all that impressed with the result.  Scarves can be tricky because the fabric is very thin, and once it is glued to the table top, it has a tendency to show any imperfections on the wood underneath.  That is exactly what happened in this case.  Once the Mod Podge was dry, I removed the fabric and decided to start over.  Then it hit me:  I had this great flower power corduroy fabric from an old dress that looked very cute on my daughter but no longer fit her.  I saved it in the hopes that I would find a use for it someday.  That time was now!


I cut the fabric and measured out a large enough piece to cover the top of the table.  I applied a generous amount of Mod Podge to the table surface.  The general rule is the thicker the material the more Mod Podge you will need to use to achieve the desired effect.


Once the glue was dry, I hand painted the table with pink, purple and white acrylic paint.  This was turning out to be a much different table then I had originally anticipated.  After a few more coats of paint,  I added generous amounts of Mod Podge to the table top to seal the fabric.  I repeated this process three times allowing it to dry between coats. I also applied Mod Podge to the painted surfaces, to seal the entire piece.


Once dry, I trimmed off the excess fabric on the edges and applied more Mod Podge to seal those edges.


This is a side table with a lot of flower power and 1960’s appeal.  I am hoping this table makes some little girl very happy!  It will be just one of the items for sale this weekend.  I also loved working with corduroy!  Because of the thickness of the fabric, I was unsure as to how it would turn out and was more than pleased with the end result!


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Materials Used:

Old kids Garment

Mod Podge

Spray or brush on white primer

Acrylic Paint

Paint Brushes (Various sizes)

Scissors and Box Cutter knife (to trim edges)


Two Years, One Sale- On The Upcycle

This April 27th 2015 marks the two-year anniversary of this blog and my creative mission to reuse, re-purpose and restyle.


For me, Upcycling is all about having fun and being creative with items that would otherwise be discarded.  The biggest challenge for me has been the writing. I love to craft, but I struggle with writer’s block from time to time.  The ideas for projects often come but the words to adequately describe them do not. Although I am not blogging with quite the same frequency as I once was, I am still happy that I was able to continue and complete a few larger and more challenging projects this past year, like my Lane Cedar Hope Chest. After two years of creating I am inevitably left with too many items and not enough room to keep them all. I was excited to hear that my daughter’s school is sponsoring a flea market in early May.  This seemed like a great oppurtunity to have my first “flea market experience.” I have never tried to sell my projects before, so this is a huge first step for me.  What better way to re-energize and make room for new projects?

It’s spring cleaning time for On The Upcycle. That being said, it’s also a fun time to squeeze in a few smaller projects in the days leading up to the sale.

I love wooden boxes and picked this one up for 99 cents at Goodwill.  I didn’t care for the boxes original design, but the box itself was in great shape.


I used a spray on white primer to properly cover the previous design on the box.


I had a nice celestial print.  I have been in a colorful mood lately and wanted to utilize a design with a lot of color


I applied Mod Podge with a brush, and placed the print on the box top and front.


I painted the box blue and pink to match colors contained within the print


This whimsical celestial themed box is one of the items crafted specifically for the sale.


Here are a few photo’s of previous projects I have agreed to part with for the upcoming sale:

Peacock Table
peacock table before and after

Star Wars Kid Chair:

Star Wars Themed Fabric Decoupage Chair

Strawberry Shortcake Kids Chair:

Upcycled Strawberry Shortcake Kids Record Chair

Kids School Desk:
Upcycled Kids School Desk

Happy Earth day to all of my friends!! How are you celebrating today? Do any of you have experience with Flea Market sales? I would love to hear from you! Any tricks of the trade or friendly advice?


My Neighbor Let it Go: Disney’s Frozen Wooden Toy Chest and Bench

My neighbor approached me one Saturday morning last spring. He was cleaning out his garage and asked if I wanted to look at a few items before he put them out on the curb. One of these items was an unfinished toy chest/bench that had been sitting in the back of his garage taking up precious space.  It had been purchased with good intentions, but he had never gotten around to finishing it. I immediately jumped at the chance to own such a wonderful piece of furniture.  It was unfinished wood, so this meant no scraping, stripping or priming.  My kind of project!


I am always amazed at the generosity of people.  When it comes to neighbors, I am truly blessed.  I thanked him profusely and happily took in the unfinished item. It immediately filled a dire need. My daughter had accumulated many toys, and this was a great way to store and organize them.  So, there it sat unfinished and full of toys for almost a year in our daughters playroom.  I had no idea how I would finish it. I entertained various ideas that went nowhere.  Sports themes, traditional refinishing, Disney Princesses, just to name a few.  Then it hit me one day after my daughter had viewed the movie Frozen for the 50th time!  Why didn’t I think about it until now?  I emptied her toys out and placed them in bags.  I went online and looked up a Frozen color palate.  I chose 4 colors from Joann Fabric and Craft Stores Craft Essentials acrylic paint collection. I ended up using three bottles of each color, except for the pink (I only used 2) I went online and printed out some Frozen graphics that I wanted to use.  I set my printer to the largest setting possible.



The toy box needed about 2 coats with some minor touch ups after drying. Once the final coat was applied, I allowed the piece to dry thoroughly overnight.


The next day, I applied Mod Podge to the front and lid with a foam brush, and carefully applied the prints.



The piece needed some “pop” so I decided to purchase some wall decals from Babies R Us to use as accents.  If you do not have access to a printer some of these images would also work great for decoupage.  I decided to apply the left over decals to my daughters bedroom wall.


I then applied Mod Podge to the entire piece to seal it. For the majority of the toy box I used a foam brush to apply the Mod Podge, on the lid I used a “fluffy” mini paint roller which gave a snowy effect when the Mod Podge dried.


I was happy how the piece turned out, and it looks great in the playroom!  When my daughter saw it finished the smile on her face said it all!




Wooden toy box

Mod Podge

Paint/Brushes large and small

Foam craft brush, scissors

Frozen Prints Or Decals

(Colors used from Craft Essentials sold by Joann Fabric)

Mediterranean Blue

Panic Pink

Caribbean Coast

Sailing Sky

Length of project: 2 days (total)