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Car Part Art: Turning Scrap Into Sculpture

I am always intrigued when I  find art in unlikely places.   This past weekend I made an appointment to have front brakes installed on my car.  I planned my day accordingly and woke up bright and early. Meineke is currently having a sale on brakes, and although I had never gone there before for repairs, the allure of saving $50.00 compared to a previous quote I had received was too good to pass up.

When I arrived at the shop I was greeted unexpectedly by a piece of upcycled art.  Of course I had to snap a picture of this pleasant little door greeter and his loyal pup.  This little man and his dog were made from recycled car parts, mufflers, brake parts and the like.  Of course I fell in love with them instantly.

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It seems that one or more of the mechanics has a creative side! Apparently, this is not a new concept as upcycling car parts into works of art is more common than one might think.  Roadside America an online guide to offbeat tourist attractions has a great article featuring some of these so-called “muffler men” who populate the auto shops and roadsides of America.  You may have already seen some of these sculptures on your travels already!

There are also some truly amazing upcycle artists in the world and they take this art form to a whole new level!  One such artist is Australia’s James Corbett.   He has been creating sculptures from spare auto parts and junk since 1999.  Below is an example of his work.  Look at all those spark plugs!

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Below is James, pictured with one of his many creations.  The eyes are made of headlights…genius!

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To see more of his work visit the Crimson Reason Blog.  They feature several of Jame’s intricate creations.

Another talented scrap artist is Frenchman  Edouard Martinet.  As a young student he became somewhat “obsessed” with insects.  Later, he chose to incorporate his love of insects and other animals in sculpture.  The detail and artistry here is off the charts!

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pigeon

Check out this interview with Edouard Martinet below.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
― Edgar Degas

 

Play it again kid, restyled kids piano

Play it again, Kid: Upcycled Vintage Jaymar Kids Piano

When I take a trip to an antique shop or thrift store, the thing I enjoy the most is the element of surprise.  Sometimes I come away with nothing and other times when I least expect it I find something rare.  Speaking from experience antique shops tend to have pieces that are in better physical condition. Thrift stores such as Goodwill often times are stocked with basement throw aways and estate sale clean-ups.  Many of these items are not well cared for and in some cases downright abused.  I have come across items that I wanted to rescue, but I felt with my skill level I could not save them.  It always leaves me with mixed emotions.  On this day I was about to leave the store.  The husband and I have been regularly stopping in searching for a vintage rotary phone.  Not only have I always wanted to upcycle one of these phones, My husband and I love the loud ring it produced from our childhood memories.  We have missed many calls at home unable to hear our landline phone ring if we are in a certain part of our house. Upon taking one last stroll through the cluttered furniture aisle, my eyes wandered and there it was staring back at me! It seemed too good to be true: a vintage Jaymar Kids Piano. The toddler apprentice and I had been out shopping last year around Christmas at The Christmas Tree Shop, and stumbled upon an adorable kids baby grand piano.  She loved playing it and I could barely peel her off it at the store.  The price tag was a bit hefty weighing in at $89.99.  When we left the store without it,   I couldn’t get that little piano out of my mind and finding the vintage Jaymar at Goodwill seemed a bit like the product of fate. As with any upcycling story there are challenges to be faced and this adorable piano was no different.  The wood in many places was peeled away, It had its share of loose nails, and a large crack spreading across the base and back of the piano.  Incredibly, all the white keys worked perfectly and all, but one of the black keys worked perfectly.  The plastic keys were more yellow than white as is what happens to plastic stored under certain conditions with age.  It did not have a price tag so I took it up to the associate at the register. Even in rough shape I was surprised it was priced at a mere $5.99!

Vintage Kids Jaymar Piano Est 1960's

I snatched it up and brought it home.  I may not have found the rotary phone that I was searching  for that day, but I was surprised and delighted to find the piano.

Despite its charms, I knew very little about the toy.  I grabbed my laptop and did some research.  Thanks to Old Wood Toys.com  I was able to read about the history of the Jaymar company.  The toy company produced wooden novelty trinket toy through World War II.  After the war the company exclusively produced kids pianos and puzzles.  The company officially closed it’s doors in 1990. When I searched on Ebay, there were a few for sale, many of them in rough shape with price tags ranging from $39.99-$89.99.  On most, keys were broken. I concluded I had gotten a very good deal on this toy!

Jaymar Kids Piano

Since the piano did not come with a bench, I had a kids unfinished step stool that I thought would repurpose and stand in nicely as a piano seat.

Unfinished Step  Stool

I decided the cracked area of the piano would benefit from decoupage.  I believed the Mod Podge and fabric would reinforce the cracked wood and prevent it from spitting further.  I chose black and white music note fabric from Joann Fabric.  I used a white brush on acrylic primer to paint the entire piano after cleaning it thoroughly with a damp cloth.  I measured the area I wanted to decoupage and cut a piece of fabric to fit.  Once the paint was dry, I applied Mod Podge generously to the cracked area underneath with a foam craft brush, and carefully applied the fabric smoothing it put with my hands.  Once dry, I applied three more coats of Mod Podge over top of the fabric allowing it to dry between coats.  I then painted the entire piano with several coats of black acrylic paint with an appropriate sized paint brush.  I painted parts of the piano white for emphasis.  While the piano dried between coats, I worked on repurposing the step stool into a piano seat.  I traced the seat surface on to the back of the music note fabric with a pencil.  I cut out the fabric with scissors and placed it aside.  I painted the entire chair black except for the seat which I planned to decoupage with fabric. Once dry, I applied Mod Podge to the seat and applied the traced fabric.  I applied three coats over top of it to seal it.  Once the Mod Podge was dry I used a Polyurethane clear semi-gloss sealer to add a final protective coat over the piano and the piano chair.

Upcycled Vintage Kid's Piano

The one frustration with this project was the yellowed plastic piano keys.  I would have preferred a method to whiten them, but after doing some research decided not to mess with the patina on the keys.  I have read everything from sanding the keys with fine sandpaper or cleaning them white toothpaste.  In the end, I decided the risk of damaging the function of the piano was too great and simply used the corner of a Magic Erasure pad to throughly clean the keys.

Play it again kid, restyled kids piano

 

Have any safe plastic whitening tips?  I would love to hear them!

Materials used:

Black and White Acrylic Paint

White Acrylic Primer

Large and Small Paint Brushes/Foam Craft Brush

Mod Podge

Polyurethane Clear Sealer

Fabric Of Choice

Scissors

Wet Cloth or Magic Erasure Pad for cleaning

Kids Piano/Kid Step Stool (for seat)

 

Decoupage Diaper Changing Table

Times They Are A Changing: Repurposed Kids Changing Table

Our diaper changing table was a very useful piece of furniture while it served it’s purpose.  Once my daughter outgrew it however, I wondered how I would reuse it. For a while it took up space in the craft room as I contemplated what to do with it.  It just so happened that I was looking for additional storage in our kitchen and I thought that the changing table could easily double as an extra set of shelves.

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The family and I took a trip to Joann Fabric and I purchased a colorful floral fabric for the project.  Since I had quite a bit of area to cover I purchased 1  1/2 yards of material.  I decided to leave the areas free of material in its original dark wood color, or if desired it can be painted the color of choice.  Just be sure and use a primer first especially if it is dark wood.

I cleaned the piece thoroughly before getting started.  Once dry I used a small foam roller to apply Mod Podge generously to the table surfaces.

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I cut the material with scissors allowing some extra fabric to hang over the sides.  I then carefully laid it on top of the Mod Podge smoothing out any air bubbles or wrinkles.  I generously applied Mod Podge over top of the fabric.  I repeated this for each individual shelf, and used two coats of Mod Podge for each shelf.

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Once the Mod Podge was dry and clear, I used a box cutter knife to carefully trim away any excess fabric from around the edges.  I utilized the table groove as a guide while slicing the fabric.  I then used two coats of clear polyurethane to seal and protect the table from moisture.

Repurposed Changing table

Now I have a bright and cheery shelf for the kitchen and desperately needed additional storage.  The colorful fabric really pops against our bright yellow walls, and am happy to be able to continue to use what was once a very important and sentimental piece of furniture.

 

Decoupage Diaper Changing Table

 

Materials:

Old Wooden Changing Table

Mod Podge

Foam Roller

Box Cutter Knife

Scissors

1 1/2 yard of Fabric of Choice

(Primer and Paint Optional)

Polyurethane clear sealer

Completely Stumped: Upcycled Tree Stump Ideas

Recently, my backyard neighbor approached me about cutting one of our trees down.  I have wonderful neighbors, and since it was her idea to remove the tree she also offered to pay for it.  She has a huge vegetable garden in the summer and the tree was a bit of a nuisance to her garden.  The tree was leaning and didn’t seem particularly healthy. Not to mention,  little saplings would appear everywhere in our yards and grew like weeds. Due to such factors, it seemed like a good idea to have it removed.  Unfortunately, we are now left with a bit of an ugly tree stump, and the guilt of removing a tree from nature, but the truth is our yards are too small and too close for such forestry.  I began doing research on ideas when it comes to upcycling tree stumps. I am still unsure as to what I am going to do with ours, but found some inventive ideas online I wanted to share.  After a long winter, it seems appropriate to welcome spring in such a way!

1. Interior Holic 

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Who wouldn’t love a tree table!  Just one of many ideas on this site!  Tree stump natural flower planters, Tree stump side tables covered in polyurethane you name it this site has it!

2.  A Cultivated Nest

A DIY site dedicated to crafts is home to the unique idea of a tree stump chair!  I love this idea!  It not only recycles an old broken chair, but saves the old tree stump creating a unique piece of furniture in the process!

3. And… there is always HGTV ! Lets not forget our other backyard neighbors, birds!  This link will show you all the ways to greet and care for birds in a natural garden setting. This lovely idea uses a tree stump with a basin resting on top for a natural looking bird bath.

Bird Bath Tree Stump

Do you have any creative ways of  recycling tree stumps?  Are you as excited as I am to get outside and do a little spring cleanup?

Line your drawers with Scrapbook Paper

Spring into Decoupage: Scrapbook Paper Drawer Makeover

Spring fever has hit the suburbs, despite the meteorologists predicting yet another snowstorm/nor’easter early next week.  With that the spring cleaning begins which was apparent yesterday after receiving a knock at the door from one of my many fantastic neighbors.  He was cleaning out his garage and wanted to know if I was interested in a really lovely unfinished celestial shelf.

Unfinished Celestial Wooden Shelf

and this absolutely lovely unfinished wooden bench with seat storage!

Unfinished Wood Bench With Storage

I thought it was a dream that these beautiful pieces would literally show up at my door but it was true!  If I didn’t want them, my neighbors were taking them to Goodwill to donate them.  I know Goodwill would have been happy to have these items especially during this unsuccesful trip when I snapped a photo of their depleted furniture room which is usually FILLED with items.   It has been a tough winter indeed!

Empty Goodwill store

Now, the challenge begins… I have to come up with design ideas for these wonderful pieces that do them the justice they deserve.  Meanwhile, all of this did make me think about my own much-needed spring cleaning and looking for items to reuse and repurpose that I already have instead of buying additional pieces.  A project I did fairly recently incorporates that idea.  As crafters we accumulate various supplies some of which we never use.  I have a collection of scrapbook paper that fits this profile.  The good news is there is nothing better than scrapbook paper when it comes to decoupage.  It can be used for so many projects not just it’s obvious purpose.  One of my very first projects involved a pair of upcycled bedroom tables.  It has been almost a year since completing these tables and they have held up fantastically well.  When I restyled them, I left the inside of the drawers undone and decided this would be a great way to use up some of that scrapbook paper.

Decoupage Nightstand with drawers

The process is simple first I figured out how much scrapbook paper I would need.  I added creases on areas I would cut.  I set these pieces aside.

Scrapbook drawer lining

I applied Mod Podge to the drawer surface with a foam brush.

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I carefully applied the paper smoothing it out with my hands.  The Mod Podge Rubber Squeegee Tool  also works well for this, especially in the corners.  Once the Mod Podge was dry, I applied an additional coat over top.

Line your drawers with Scrapbook Paper

A great way to reuse, restyle, repurpose. Do you have any green crafting ideas for spring? Am I the only one excited at what I might find while Spring cleaning?

 

Decoupage Fabric Suitcase

Travel the Old Fashioned Way: Vintage Decoupage Suitcase

I love vintage suitcases!  I especially love all of the decoupage and repurposed vintage suitcase ideas I have seen while strolling through the web. I was eager to restyle a suitcase of my own, but hard case luggage proved to be a challenging find.   Over the last two years, I searched for suitable suitcases in every thrift store, yard sale, and managed to stumble across only one along the way.   You can imagine my surprise recently, when I came across not one, but three vintage blue suitcases in the same shopping trip.  The small case was inside the medium case, and the large case was empty. The set was not priced.  I asked for a price check and expected an individual price on each piece of luggage.  Instead, Goodwill decided to price the small and medium cases together for only $3.99!  I checked with them twice, because I could not believe it!  The larger case (pictured below) was priced at a reasonable $7.99.

Vintage Blue Suitcase

 

For my first suitcase decoupage, I decided to keep it simple. I purchased a yard of fabric from Joann Fabric.  I searched for material that would blend with the color of the suitcase, and found a nice blue and white floral pattern. I cleaned the case to remove any dust or dirt. I generously applied Mod Podge with a foam craft brush.

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I carefully laid the fabric on glue, smoothing out any wrinkles or air bubbles with my hands along the way.  I carefully worked the fabric in the creases of the case, and covered the entire area with another layer of Mod Podge.

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Once dry, I trimmed any excess fabric with a box cutting knife applying minimal pressure using the natural crease of the suitcase as my guide.  I added a 2nd coat of Mod Podge. I repeated the same process for the opposite side of the suitcase.

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Decoupage Fabric Suitcase

 

Now, what to do with the other two?

Shoes

Best Foot Forward: Upcycled Dress Shoe Repair

When I was young, I remember my mom taking me to the mall to visit the Shoemaker.  It was much more common back then to have your shoes repaired.  I remember my mom getting Taps on her shoes to protect the heel and make the shoes last longer.  I did a bit of internet research and was surprised to find that Shoemakers still exist, although not in quite as large numbers as thirty years ago.

Everyone has that pair of shoes that they love.  It is hard to part with a pair that fit well and are comfortable.  Recently, my employer  adopted a casual business attire policy.  After five years of being able to come to work dressed in t-shirts and sneakers, this left me scrambling for an appropriate work wardrobe.   I went to thrift stores mostly, and picked up a wonderful pair of shoes.  They have a block heel and were extremely comfortable for a dress shoe.  One of the problems I encountered was getting used to walking in dress shoes.  I scuffed up the back of the heel pretty badly and the sole began to separate from the shoe.  I was not ready to give them up, so I share with you my first pair of “Upcycled” shoes.

Shoes

 

This was a total experiment, but I figured I had nothing to lose since I could not wear them in their present condition.  The first repair made was to the sole.  I used a high temperature hot glue gun to adhere the sole back on the shoe.  I used two sticks and applied generously.  I put my hand inside the shoe to apply pressure, while the glue dried.  I then painted the heels with black acrylic paint.  Once the heels and soles were dry I applied a layer of Mod Podge with a paint brush,  I then added another layer of polyurethane for added protection.

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So far they are holding up well despite the repairs.  The true test will be the hot glue and every day wear.

Upcycled Kitchen Wall Hanging and Storage

From “Odd To Mod” Upcycled Thrift Store Mystery Wall Hanging

Recently, I have made quite a few thrift store walk throughs, without finding much of anything to stimulate my creativity.  My pockets are lighter, and even the amount of freebie finds have dwindled. Sure, my attic is filled with items all screaming “Repurpose me, me, meee!”, but our attic is a bit of an organizational nightmare I can’t seem to wake up from, not to mention it is unheated and freezing cold up there! When I go up there, I have to bundle up like I am going for a mile walk across the tundra!  I also feel the secret is out now and when I pull up to the Goodwill store, I am lucky if I can find a parking space!

Despite this, I always take a look for those unique items you can only find in a second-hand store and yard sales. Part of the fun is the thrill of the hunt, and coming up empty-handed is a part of it.   I am always interested in quirky little items even if I am not sure what its original use was.  My husband and the toddler apprentice were out with me one Saturday, and we couldn’t find much, but did spot this unique wooden wall hanging with a bit of storage.  It definitely screamed late 70′s early 80′s to me, and I thought it would look cute in our kitchen.

thrift store wooden wall storage thing

I wanted to re-style it to be more vibrant and colorful.  I thoroughly cleaned the piece with a damp cloth.  I had some leftover red spray paint from a previous project and decided to use it to brighten up the piece.  I took it outside and sprayed it red.

Spray painted piece

This particular spray paint required about 9-24 hours to completely dry.  Once it was dry enough for me to pick up, I brought it inside to my craft room and allowed it to dry in front of the fan.  Later in the evening the piece seemed dry enough, so I placed the front of the piece down upon the back of the fabric to trace it with a fine tipped black marker.  Probably better if I had traced the object on to the fabric before it was painted, but I was lucky and none of the marker made its way on the painted area.  I then applied Mod Podge with a foam craft brush on the front.

Apply Mod Podge

I then applied the cut fabric and smoothed it carefully out with my hands.  I picked a fun Mod fabric with a lot of bright colors.

Apply Fabric

I applied Mod Podge over the fabric and allowed it to dry overnight.  The next morning it was ready to hang.  I love the bright colors which go along perfectly in our yellow kitchen. Now, I just have to decide what I will use it for.  I am leaning toward a salt and pepper holder.

Upcycled Kitchen Wall Hanging and Storage

Before and After: 

From Odd To Mod-Upcycled Thrift Store Wooden Wall Hanging Restyled with Mod Podge, Paint, and Fabric

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Can You Spare A Square? Repurposed Toilet Paper Roll.

Ok, so we have all been there.  Through the years, I have learned to look before I leap.  I always check the bathroom stall before I get down to business and make sure the toilet paper roll is full. I considered myself lucky on this day.  When I walked in the stall, I noticed right away all these empty cardboard toilet paper rolls. I did not spot any TP, so I moved on to the next stall, but I couldn’t get those cardboard rolls out of my mind. These rolls are larger than average and are made from a thick cardboard.  It got me thinking, these cardboard rolls could be useful and had repurpose potential.  I took one of them home as an experiment.

I am still in the process of organizing my craft space, and  I thought it would make a perfect pen/supplies holder.  I found an old pickle jar lid that fit the circumference of the roll perfectly.

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I used a hot glue gun to permanently adhere the lid to the bottom of the toilet paper roll.

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I had some left over fabric from a previous project that I thought would be perfect.  I traced the jar lid on the back of the fabric with a marker and cut it out with a pair of scissors.

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I applied Mod Podge to the lid with a foam craft brush, applying the fabric tracing over it.  I then applied Mod Podge to the entire outside of the roll.

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I  wrapped the fabric around to roll and carefully smoothed out any wrinkles and matching up the seam.  I overlapped the fabric where the base met the cardboard.

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I painted the inside with brown acrylic paint to match the fabric.  Once dry, I applied Mod Podge to the entire roll inside and out to seal it.

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Now the hamster wheel in my brain is turning!  I have a feeling this will not be the last project utilizing these rolls!

Stay tuned!

Fabric, Decoupage and Paint Bathroom Cabinet Makeover

Design On A Nickel: Bathroom Cabinet Decoupage Restyle

Of all the rooms in our home our bathroom I can say without a doubt is my least favorite.  Our house was built-in 1937 and most older homes provided basic accommodations when it came restroom facilities.  Adding to these difficulties is the fact that we have only one, small bathroom in our home and it is in desperate need of a re-model.  That of course financially is not in the cards for us now.  However; I am a firm believer in making the best out of a situation, and I have had plans for quite sometime to work on improving our bathroom.  Our biggest eye sore was our bathroom sink cabinet. Replacing it was not an option, so I thought I could use some paint and a fabric decoupage to improve the look of the cabinet and add some design qualities to a rather bland and uninspired bathroom.

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Generic bathroom cabinet

I hadn’t tried a project like this before and I knew it would require quite a bit of work.  I picked up a half yard of fabric from Joann Fabric and prepped the cabinet by cleaning it with a damp cloth.  I used a screwdriver to remove the doors from the hinges.  I then removed the knobs and placed them aside.  I used a white all in one latex paint and primer to paint the outside and inside shelf of the cabinet.   I used a paint roller on the larger areas and a smaller paint brush for the areas the roller couldn’t reach. I also painted the cabinet doors.  I allowed the cabinet to dry thoroughly overnight. It took about three coats to completely cover it.

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The next morning, I traced the painted cabinet doors onto the back of the fabric.  Any access fabric, I would trim away later with a box-cutter knife.  I applied Mod Podge to the doors with a foam craft brush.

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I then applied the fabric to the surface and smoothed it out with my hands. I applied another coat of Mod Podge over the top of the fabric and I used my nail to work the fabric into the crevices.

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I repeated the same process for the second door and allowed them to dry in front of the fan. Once dry, I used a box cutter knife to carefully trim the excess fabric using the groove of the door as a guide.

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I reconnected the doors to the cabinet and reattached the knobs.  I applied an additional fabric swatch to the front of the cabinet, and repeated the same process of applying the Mod Podge and fabric and trimming away the access fabric.  I then touched up any areas of the cabinet with paint that needed it.

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I really love the aqua and brown color scheme and hope to incorporate some more color in our bathroom.  I feel this may be a great start to improving our tiny neglected lavatory! I was surprised at how well this project turned out and the cabinet has gone from eyesore to accent!  It cost only about ten dollars worth of materials to make this project a reality, and I am really glad I gave it a try.  I have a feeling this is only the begining!

Fabric, Decoupage and Paint Bathroom Cabinet Makeover

Bathroom Cabinet Makeover Materials:

Mod Podge

All in one latex primer and paint in one

Fabric of choice

foam craft brush/paint roller

paint brush/fine tipped marker

Box cutter knife/scissors

Before and After:

Bathroom Cabinet Makeover Before and After