All I Needed Was A Little Patience: Gone, But Never Idle For Long

So, it’s been a quiet year for the “On The Upcycle” blog logging in this evening for the first time in a very long time.   I have genuinely missed my form of “art therapy” It helped focus my mind in a positive way during some truly challenging times.  I also miss all of you in the Word Press community who are so wonderful and supportive of all kinds of unique creative endeavors.

As is always the case in life, matters shifted, priorities changed and you find yourself one year older and looking back thinking where did all that time go?  If you know me personally you also know that I dip my proverbial toe into many different projects at once without having much real time for any of them!  Somehow insomnia my curse as well as my gift, is mostly all the time that I have, so when I am sleeping well sometimes projects suffer.  It seems a bit ironic.  Not to mention my constant battle with writers block and finding myself with nothing to say, to make an interesting read.

So what have I been doing while I have been gone? I have worked on some of my other interests including genealogy,  music and nostalgia (I have been digitizing my VHS catalog from the 80’s, 90’s and uploading to You Tube), and I have a continued focus on my health and wellness like never before.   Finally my biggest priority and most important, sweetest project of all, my little crafting apprentice who just turned six and is showing autism who is boss.  Nothing can stop this little girl!

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2016 was also a great year for me as a music fan.   A few days before my birthday last year, my favorite band of all time Guns N Roses reunited with three original members including Slash (If you know the band’s history,  you understand what a big deal an Axl and Slash reunion is) After over 20 years they decided to bury the hatchet and get back together and tour again.   I took advantage and saw them twice during the summer last year, and plan on seeing them again this year.  The band has matured and sound great. The show clocks in at almost 3 hours,  It’s an amazing performance by all involved and I highly recommend it!

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So to roll up my sleeves and pick a project to get me back into the upcycle world again if not just part time, I decided to create a decoupage TV tray with the famous GNR bullet logo.  A gift for a friend and fellow fan.

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Last year, before the show I also created a tray table with the classic Guns N Roses logo to commemorate the reunion.  This one I kept for myself and is pictured below:

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Have a different favorite?  That’s OK! check out my tutorials below and you can make any custom TV Tray you like:

Custom TV Trays Made With Mod Podge

Other Ideas For Custom Trays

It will also be the 30th anniversary this year of Guns N Roses iconic debut album “Appetite For Destruction”  I had a copy of the LP, that had been unfortunately damaged by a bad record needle.  You can make cute side tables using old LP’s and a small round metal plant stand.  The link is below:

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For The Record Upcycling Vinyl

Thought I wouldn’t be back in this Lifetime?   Think again.  : )

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The Shirt That Didn’t Fit: Clothing Repurpose

I was up late shopping one night when I came across a lovely shirt on Ebay.  I usually don’t purchase clothes unless I can try them on first, but I had recently ordered something and it worked out perfectly, so I was feeling braver than usual.

I received the item, and to my dismay it did not fit.  The seller had a no refund policy, so I attempted to relist the item for sale. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any luck reselling the item,  so I decided to utilize the shirt in a different way.  I loved the pattern and material, so I decided to re-purpose the item and use the fabric for decoupage.

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I carefully cut out the gold star pattern, and used a little Mod Podge to apply these to my kitchen back splash.  This added a much needed “pop” of color, and matched the kitchen decor perfectly.

Before:

DIY Kitchen Back Splash

After:

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I had some fabric left over, so I decided to use it to make an accent lamp for my office.  I had an empty spaghetti jar which would work perfectly for this project.  I applied Mod Podge to the exterior of the jar and used some twine to add a decorative quality to the base. I applied the twine with hot glue.

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For more details on how to create a decoupage jar lamp, check out some previous On The Upcycle decorative lighting projects…

Spaghetti Jar Lamp

Pickle Jar Lamp

 

Hot Summer Nights: Paradise By The Back Porch Light

This past memorial day weekend, my husband and I were determined to get the yard ready for summer.  My daughter received an Easy Set Intex Pool from her Uncle and Aunt for Christmas and we could not wait to get the pool setup and operational.  My daughter’s 4th birthday this year will have a pool party theme, and the date for the party is quickly approaching.  My husband and I leveled out the ground in the area the pool would be placed.  We laid down a tarp and spread the pool out.  These inflatable Easy Set’s are great starter pools, and in our case the simpler the better since this is our first attempt at putting up a pool.

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We inflated the ring with a pump, and from the inside smoothed out the lining.  It took all day to fill.  The next day, we hooked up the filter, placed chlorine tabs in the floater, and assembled the ladder.  The water was very cold, so I hopped in to the pool for a test run.  For the most part everything went great and the set up was easy.  I was disappointed to find some parts in the lining that were not as smooth as we had wanted.  I can’t stress enough the importance of making sure the ground is clear of any debris and level.  Even after all our careful work, what seemed smooth at the surface was not always the case.  Once the weight of the water pressed the ground flat, some rocks and roots underground seemed to appear out of nowhere through the lining.  That being said the only way to remedy this would be to drain the pool and remove the debris from the area to smooth it out.  Until it is necessary to do so, we are going to take our chances.  I would feel guilty wasting all that water!  Luckily the pool came with plenty of patches if needed.

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We purchased a few fun summer signs from Dollar Tree and lined the fence with them for added decoration.

I  also accomplished a few smaller projects.  I had a decorative metal star that I picked up at Christmas Tree Shop.  It was on clearance and I was never happy with the tan color.  I surmised that this was most likely the reason why it was on clearance.

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Since it was Memorial day and the house was decorated in Americana….

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I had some extra Rust-Oleum red spray paint, and I sprayed on a quick coat.  I like the star better now that it is red and I purchased it for half the price!

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The other area I wanted to address was the corner of the yard by the pool. There is a rather large tree stump in this area.  Some time ago, I blogged about ideas here.

I struggled with what to do with this stump for some time.  This weekend that changed.  I decided to make it a fun project for my daughter and I to do together.  I had an old broken wooden TV tray.  I removed the table top from the legs and screwed it on to the tree stump surface.  My neighbor had given me some decorative, shells, glass pebbles and decorative rock. I thought it would be fun for us to create a mosaic table top for it.  I used some old tile grout and glue in one and spread it onto the table surface evenly.  The toddler apprentice and I then applied the rocks and glass pebbles.  We wiped off any excess grout and allowed it to dry overnight.  I used the unused legs of the TV tray as a garden trellis, another great re-purpose!  My goal was to use as much of the table as possible. Mission accomplished!

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I placed the shells around for decoration.   Now Mommy has a place to put “her” sippy cup and relax by the pool, while my daughter has fun exploring and playing with the various sea shells.

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Since this spring has been a bit sparse in the rain department, our grass took a hit and much of it died.  Once all the yard work was done, we raked the yard and spread out grass seed in the hopes of bringing our lawn back to life!  Once the grass grows under our feet, our little backyard oasis will be complete!

What do you have planned for your backyard oasis?  Do you have any summer projects you are eager to complete?  How do you like to kick off summer?

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.

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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.

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

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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

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

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

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

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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?

On The Upcycle Revival: Vintage 1934 Lane Waterfall Art Deco Hope Chest

Every once in a while that special piece of furniture falls into your lap unexpectedly and without warning.  Now that the word is out and friends and family are aware of my blog, I have had interesting items rescued and brought to me to experiment on.  That was the case with this next project which also proved to be my most challenging yet. The same friend and co-worker who brought me my “You had me at half table” project approached me about a cedar chest she had sitting in her garage.  She needed to make room and could no longer keep it, and wanted to know if I would be interested in giving it a good home, and taking it off her hands. The outside of the chest was in rough shape, but the inside was still perfect.  After all these years, it managed to maintain its trademark cedar smell.  She inherited the hope chest from a neighbor who was about to place it out on the curbside. My friend rescued it, recognizing this diamond in the rough deserved a second chance at life. Adding to the excitement was the fact that I had always wanted a hope chest of my own.  I didn’t mind having to put some work into restoring one, and I graciously accepted the offer.  I was really excited and looking forward to working on a special piece like this.   Initially I was concerned about transport, but I was relieved when it fit in the backseat of my car.  I already had a spot for it in my bedroom. It seemed like it was fate.  For a while,  it sat untouched and the veneer began to peel, and I peeled it off little by little, while I figured out a plan to bring it back to life.

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I began researching the piece online. I opened the trunk and inside I found a card outlining the moth insurance policy.  The card also encouraged it’s customers to “buy victory war bonds.”  I knew from that moment on this was a vintage piece.

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The tag also listed the maker of the piece.  The Lane Company Altavista, VA.  The name was also burned into the inside of the lid.

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Founded in 1912 by John and Ed Lane, The Lane Company of Virginia, became one of the leading makers of Hope chests in the United States during World War I and World War II.  During that time, it was tradition for young girls to have a hope chest to bring with them into a marriage.  The company launched a massive ad campaign which even included child star Shirley Temple  as a popular spokesperson for the company.

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Every piece was stamped with a unique serial number and style number. Reversing the serial numbers is what helped me determine its age. This one was manufactured on 8/18/1934.  The chest was waterfall design done in an art deco style which was also popular during this time.

The chest itself was in good shape, but the veneer was not.  It was stored in a damp place for a long time,  and much of it was peeling or bubbling up. I knew removing this would take a lot of work.  I also discovered that the original lock had been recalled. Sadly there have been cases of children suffocating inside after becoming trapped as recently as 2014. The good news is Lane still has replacement locks available on their website.  Due to safety concerns, I went online to order one here.  The lock ships in 4-6 weeks.  It is important when purchasing vintage furniture to pay attention to recalls.  I was glad to have stumbled upon this fact during my research by pure accident.

With minor cracks in veneer, it is possible to buy wood filler/puddy and “patch” and sand the areas, but in this case the veneer would have to be removed entirely in some areas. I read a few articles online, and I tried various techniques for easily removing veneer.  Let me start off by saying there is no easy way to remove veneer. I found it to be a long, risky and tedious task.  The one technique  that worked best was using a hot iron and a damp towel. I soaked the towel in warm water and placed it on the area of veneer I wanted to remove.

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I then heated up the iron and placed it on the area allowing it to sit for several minutes.  This softened the glue enough to allow me to use a scraper to remove large pieces of the veneer.  unfortunately, smaller pieces broke off and I ended up repeating this process many times.  The biggest challenge was scraping and removing the veneer without damaging the wood underneath.

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Please also note that once you use your iron for this task, it becomes designated only for this task.  The glue from the veneer burns the iron permanently and it can never be used to iron clothing again. This process was completed during the course of a few days.  I would work on a small area nightly.  The veneer removal seemed to be taking forever until it was boosted by a snow day and some unexpected free time.

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I used a belt sander to even out the larger areas and hand sanded the more delicate and smaller areas. The areas on the piece that still had veneer I carefully hand sanded.  Using a belt sander can cause damage to the veneer.  Once the sanding was completed, The piece was ready to stain and seal.

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I trudged up to Home Depot in the snowy slush and shopped for a suitable stain and polyurethane seal for the exterior.  The colors that I initially wanted they did not seem to have in stock.  This did not make the aisle look any less intimidating to me.

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I decided on a color called “Cognac” and a clear semi-gloss polyurethane sealer.  I already had a small can of Minwax Jacobean at home that I was planning on using for some of the trim.

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I began applying the stain and it was a little darker than I expected, but it closely matched our bedroom furniture like I had hoped.

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I then painted the entire piece.  I was happy with the Varathane brand stains as it dried quickly and had less odor compared to other stains I have used in the past.

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I  used the Jacobean colored stain to paint the trim and highlight the grooves and detail in the lighter wood trim.  To me adding the darker color helped bring out some of the unique design qualities of the piece.  It took about two coats of stain to cover all the areas.  Once the stain was dry (It took about 24 hrs) I applied two coats of the clear semi gloss polyurethane to seal the chest.

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Although I could not restore the chest to its original state, I am pleased with how elegant the piece looks now.  It fits in beautifully in our bedroom and I look forward to storing special items inside it and treasuring it for years to come.

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Before and After

1934 Lane Hope Chest Before and After

Materials used:

Old Iron

Old Towel

Paint Scraper

Paint Brush Large and Small (for detail)

Wood Stain (color of choice) and Polyurethane Sealer

Sand Paper

Belt Sander (Optional)

Ghosts of Furniture Past: Refinished Drop Leaf Table

My husband has very few mementos from his childhood, so for this project the pressure was on.   This round, drop leaf table was used for just about every purpose in my husband’s family home.  It had seen better days.  It survived over 30 years of wear,  dirty hands, spilled drinks and more.  If only a little table could talk!  I could only imagine the stories it would tell!

I wanted to restore this table to its original state before all its scratches, and dings, but it would prove to be my most time-consuming project to date, and also the most rewarding.

Cleaning over 30 years of dirt and grime is not easy, but a necessary step when preparing a table for restoration.  I cleaned it throughly with a damp cloth and used a scrubber sponge for tough to clean areas.  Once clean and dry, it was time to sand it and I did so by hand with sandpaper!  This was very messy and time-consuming.  I suggest wearing a mask, and doing this in an area you don’t mind getting dirty. Completing this part of the project outside would be preferable.  All the more reason to invest in an electric sander having one would have accelerated this process.  In between other projects I worked tirelessly to get the table completely sanded and ready for staining.

Round Drop Leaf Table

I chose Minwax  Jacobean 2750 for the stain.  I wanted a dark rich color, which would contrast nicely with the sandstone colored walls.  While working with oil based paint be sure to have a proper solvent nearby for clean-up.  I use Safer Paint Thinner which is more environmentally friendly than traditional cleaners.  I applied the Minwax stain with a brush, following along with the wood grain.  Unfortunately, for me,  I applied too much stain and due to the humid summer weather, the table took over a week to dry!  At this point, I was in no rush, and it rested quietly in the craft room locked away and out of reach from curious toddler hands.

Once the table was completely dry, I sealed it with quick drying Minwax Semi-Gloss Polyurethane.  I applied two coats, for a smooth finish.

Restored Family table

Finally!  After many weeks and many more pieces of sandpaper, the family table was complete and ready for its permanent place of honor in our family home.

Before and After Drop Leaf Table:

Before and After Refinished Drop Leaf Table

Watching The Paint Dry: 50 Questions With “On The Upcycle”

It has been hectic to say the least behind the scenes.  I have several projects to share, but this week, I have been working on a family table re-finish.  It has been extremely humid in my area, and it is taking forever and a day for the oil based paint to dry.  Not to mention, I added a little too much stain, which made the table a nice dark color, but only added to the length of time it took for the piece to dry!  In the meantime, I have been catching up in between projects,  and an increasingly busy schedule on my WordPress reading.   

Last year, I was invited by Elise at  Cheeky Geeks  to take part in her blog’s annual Geek month.

In the spirit of Throw Back Thursday, and for those who missed the original post you may want to check it out (especially if you are an “1980’s geek” like I am.)  I upcycled an old kid’s chair using an old Strawberry Shortcake record.

Upcycled Strawberry Shortcake Kids Record Chair

Be sure and stop by Elise’s blog for this year’s geek month.  If you are anything like me and have a “Geeky” side you will enjoy following Elise on her Geek Month journey.

Cheeky Geeks : Geek Month Celebration

Elise also had a challenge for me if I was willing to accept:  Answer 50 questions about myself.   It would seem that she is interested to know a bit more about the women behind the Upcycle.  Seemed like a great time to accept this challenge, while I quite literally wait for the paint to dry….

  1. What are you wearing?-Yoga pants and a rock tee. I am all about comfort!
  2. Ever been in love? Yes, and I love, love!
  3. Ever had a terrible breakup? I went through a divorce, what do you think?
  4. How tall are you? 5 feet 4 inches
  5. How much do you weigh? It’s never polite to ask a lady her weight!
  6. Any tattoos? Two black animal paw prints on the top of my foot
  7. Any piercings? 3 piercings in one ear, two on the other
  8. OTP (one true pair, favorite fictional couple)? Kristoff and Anna from Frozen.  My daughter is into Disney at the moment!
  9. Favorite show? Game of Thrones
  10. Favorite bands? Too many to list, but Rock N Roll is my first love
  11. Something you miss?- My Grandfather Vincent
  12. Favorite song? Right now? “I Got A Name” Jim Croce
  13. How old are you? 39 and holding on for dear life!
  14. Zodiac sign? Aries
  15. Quality you look for in a partner? No question sense of humor!
  16. Favorite Quote? “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” John Lennon
  17. Favorite actor? Peter Dinklage I love, love him!
  18. Favorite color? Purple
  19. Loud music or soft? Loud
  20. Where do you go when you’re sad? Unfortunately, inside my head.
  21. How long does it take you to shower? 10 minutes I have to be quick I have a toddler!
  22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 30 minutes
  23. Ever been in a physical fight? yes, but I was forced
  24. Turn on? Kindness
  25. Turn off? Elitism
  26. The reason I started blogging? I wanted to share my thriftiness with others, and I love to write!
  27. Fears? Not being able to see my daughter grow up
  28. Last thing that made you cry? My daughter
  29. Last time you said you loved someone? Today
  30. Meaning behind the name of your blog?It popped in my head one day. I kept thinking of the song “Little Suzi’s on the Up” by the band PhD.
  31. Last book you read? OMG embarrassing, All my reading is on the computer!
  32. The book you’re currently reading? Ummm refer to # 31
  33. Last show you watched? Big Bang Theory
  34. Last person you talked to?-My husband
  35. The relationship between you and the person you last texted? My sister
  36. Favorite food? Eggplant parm and Spaghetti
  37. Place you want to visit? Ireland
  38. Last place you were? At Work
  39. Do you have a crush? Do girl crushes count? Check out this awesome blog: AussaLorens.com
  40. Last time you kissed someone? Today
  41. Last time you were insulted? LOL probably every day, but most likely I don’t know about it!
  42. Favorite flavor of sweet? Sour Patch Kids
  43. What instruments do you play? I tried guitar, but could never catch on, I played the clarinet in elementary school
  44. Favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring
  45. Last song you sang? Heart “Magic Man”
  46. Favorite chat up line? I don’t have one! It’s whatever pops into my head at any given time.
  47. Have you ever used it? N/A
  48. Last time you hung out with anyone? Last weekend.
  49. Who should answer these questions next? I wanna know more about Daniela Joe If she’s willing to give it a go!
  50. LOL 50 Questions?  I think I am missing something here…