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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Have any safe plastic whitening tips? I would love to hear them!
Black and White Acrylic Paint
White Acrylic Primer
Large and Small Paint Brushes/Foam Craft Brush
Polyurethane Clear Sealer
Fabric Of Choice
Wet Cloth or Magic Erasure Pad for cleaning
Kids Piano/Kid Step Stool (for seat)