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)

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Fabulous Frida: Dollar Store Decoupage

Beauty can present itself in many forms.  That is why I find the works of Frida Kahlo so intriguing.  The subject matter of her paintings are often grotesque and painful, but one can’t help being drawn to it.  Despite the many adversities life had to offer her, Kahlo never let it defeat her. She was a modern woman, ahead of her time, and created artwork that remains relevant today. Born in Mexico City around the start of the Mexican revolution,  At age 6 she contracted Polio which caused her to walk with a limp. As a young women, she was involved in a nearly fatal bus accident that left her with severe lifelong and painful injuries including her inability to carry a child.  Her heart was broken and this was reflected in many of her paintings, most of which were self portraits.

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Frida Kahlo pictured below with her partner and muse, painter Diego Rivera in 1932.

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My sister is also a fan of Frida.  She recently had a surgery that would take some time and perseverance to recover from.  I wanted to make her something special to lift her spirits and inspire her while she was convalescing. I thought something with a Frida Kahlo theme could do just that.  I had a small wooden box that was far from special, but would be perfect to store her medications in.

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First, I cleaned the box thoroughly removing dust and dirt that accumulated during storage.  I printed out a 4×6 Frida print, and applied Mod Podge to the box with a paint brush.  I then carefully applied the print to the box.

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I used black and golden rod acrylic paint to finish off the box redesign. Once the box dried, I used Mod Podge to seal the project.

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Make your own art inspired box Dollar Store Craft

Imagine the possibilities!

Materials:

Mod Podge

Print of choice for decoupage

Acrylic Paint

Scissors and paint brushes

Feeling the Frida Frenzy?  Check out these other On the Upcycle Frida Kahlo inspired projects

Frida Kahlo Decoupage TrayFrida Kahlo Decoupage Art Case

Smells Like Team Spirit: Decoupage TV Trays

Writer’s block is a terrible thing!  I have been inflicted with a horrible case, which explains my lack of posts in the month of October. Despite my loss for words,  I have still managed to stay busy and continue crafting. It has been the healthiest and most productive stress reliever for me to date.  I am always searching the crevices of my brain for new ideas, and it keeps me going.   Quite surprisingly it is the familiar ideas that get revisited most often due to popular demand.  One such project is the decoupage TV Trays. The themes for these tables are endless.  I have posted various tutorials on how to make these TV tray tables more fun and decorative.    Various family members have expressed interest in having one, and I love to make others happy.    My two young nieces are involved in school sports and what better way to show team spirit than with something unique and functional at the same time?

Look familiar?  Everyone has a set of these trays, and  they make frequent appearances in thrift stores for just a few dollars.   All you need is a graphic that can be enlarged without becoming distorted, and a printer.

TV Tray before

Add some paint, apply the Mod Podge and you can create unique, spirited gifts that the other kids at school will want to have!

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Sports, Music, Art, Personalized the possibilities keep coming.  As long as there are boring TV trays left in the world, this project will live on.  How would you redesign your table?

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Decoupage College Football Chair

This Saturday, two impressive college football teams will square off in what proves to be an epic battle.  # 2 Florida State is favored over the 6-0 5th ranked Notre Dame.  The Fighting Irish are clear underdogs in this matchup, and the history behind these two teams and prior matchups, seem to support this fact.  Looking for the upset, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will surly be put to the test.  They will need to play their best football yet. They will need to…..

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My husband grew up watching Notre Dame and rooting for the Irish along with his father.  Like many teams Notre Dame has had its share of ups and downs through the years, but despite this my father in law’s love for his Irish never waned. Every game win or lose.. it didn’t matter, It was a celebration. It was Notre Dame Saturday!  If you root for and follow a team you know that it becomes a part of your life and present during many important memories.  My husband and I often think of our father fondly, and though he passed many years ago, Watching the games and following his favorite team brings us closer to him.  I wanted to make my husband a special gift, and it never seemed like a better time than for one of their biggest games. I picked up a lovely solid maple ladder back chair at Goodwill that had seen better days.  It was priced under five dollars, and I was drawn to its design immediately.  The chair has a stamp from a furniture company under the seat: Louis Albert and Company, Philadelphia PA.

Thrift Store Ladder Back Maple Chair

It seemed the perfect project chair, and with that the Fighting Irish Notre Dame chair, was born.  If you have followed my blog, you know I have a special place in my crafty heart for chairs.  I am drawn to functional pieces of art and to me a chair embodies both these elements nicely.  I printed out the college decal of choice on my printer. I then cleaned and prepped the chair with a white spray on primer.

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I applied Mod Podge to the seat with a foam craft brush.  I then added the print, gently smoothing out any air bubbles with my hands.

Apply Mod Podge

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I added a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top of the print to seal it.  Once dry, I began the lengthy process of painting the chair.  I used the team colors, gold, blue and green for the color scheme.  It took several coats to obtain proper coverage.  I carefully painted the area around the image, and although time-consuming, it made the image appear to flow with the seat. Because of the small areas, I decided to paint rather than to cut the image out.  Adding Mod Podge before painting the paper prevented damage and curling.  Two coats of Mod Podge over the painted area, properly sealed it. I decided to give the feet of the chair some character by adding the gold dipped legs. Once the paint was dry over the span of about two nights, I covered the entire chair in Mod Podge to seal the acrylic paint.

Decoupage Notre Dame Fighting Irish College Sports Chair

Notre Dame College Football Chair

Now my husband has a special chair to sit upon and watch the game this weekend.  Another Notre Dame Saturday of family memories with our own daughter, and a Fighting Irish college football chair to enjoy for many years and games to come!

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Before and After:

before after

Not a fan of the Irish?  Make your own college football chair:

Materials:

Decal or Team Print Of Choice

Old Wooden Chair

White Spray On Primer

Mod Podge

Acrylic Paint (Team Colors of Choice)

Craft Brush, Paint Brushes

Scissors

Lighten Up: DIY Painted Fireplace Screen

Winter is quickly approaching, and now is the time to prepare and accomplish last-minute projects around the house before the frigid air takes hold. One such project on my fall to do list was preparing our fireplace for another possible harsh winter.

When my husband and I saw our house for the first time for me it was love at first sight, and this fireplace had me at “Hello.”  Some would, consider red brick outdated, but I loved its throwback flare and vowed never to change it. Fast forward years later, and my proclamation proved true. I managed to do absolutely nothing with the fireplace! We even had the same boring black fireplace screen we purchased at Target on clearance in 2007. The depth of our hearth made the unlit fireplace appear as if it were a “black hole.”  The dark screen blended in with the background and it’s vine detailing was lost in the fray.  As beautiful as the red brick was, it was missing something.  It is surprising that it took all this time to come to the realization that the fireplace needed some “pop”, after all it was the focal point of our living room.   Of course, a redo of the red brick was out of the question, so the hubby and I decided the screen needed a change. Instead of buying a new more exciting fireplace screen we vowed to do something to upcycle the old one!

Old Black Fireplace screen

I immediately took it outside and before I even bought the paint cleaned it thoroughly with the garden hose and allowed it to dry.  Since the screen would experience the extreme heat coming off the fireplace I decided to stop by Lowes and pick up 2 cans of white Rust-Oleum high heat paint.

High Heat Paint

According to the paint specs, it is intended for use in temperatures up to 1,200 degrees fahrenheit. The paint is also rust and corrosion resistant for durability.   I applied one can allowed it to dry overnight and then applied the other.  This DIY project is about as simple as it gets.  For me,  it made a dramatic difference. Painting the screen white, succesfully brought out the detail and added an extra dimension. Is their anything a fresh coat of paint can’t fix?

Repaint an old fireplace screen with high heat paint

The screen also went well with the neutral sandstone walls, and former upcycle project black and white damask chair which currently resides as extra seating in our living room.

Lighten up up your fireplace

A special thank you to Nikkimarie at My People in History.  She is a family historian and genealogy buff like me, and if you are a lover of history, family stories and vintage photo’s stop by her blog and say hello!  Thank you for nominating “On The Upcycle” for the One Lovely Blog Award, and a big thank you to all my readers for the continued support and encouragement!

Wanna see more white fireplace screens?  Click Here

Decoupage I Must: Star Wars Inspired Laptop Made With Mod Podge

With the new Star Wars Episode VII set to be released in 2015, the franchise is more popular than ever. I am sure not even George Lucas himself, could have imagined just how big Star Wars would become. The wise Yoda said it best, “Impossible to see, the future is.”

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The husband and I are children of the 70’s and 80’s and remember a time before CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and digital effects came of age. For it’s time the original Star Wars was innovative and visually impressive compared to other science fiction movies.  It touched many aspects of pop culture, and was heavily marketed toward children with action figures and tons of merchandise.  It is the third most popular movie franchise in history according to The Numbers.com.  Is it any wonder that when I came across Star Wars Fabric at Jo-ann Fabric, I couldn’t resist buying it?  The fabric was colorful, fun and had a bit of childhood nostalgia thrown in. This fabric inspired such projects as Creative Blast Off: Star Wars Kids Chair, and the Dollar Store Craft, Star Wars Candles.  My husband has an beat up laptop that he uses to surf You Tube.  It is old and scratched and could use a makeover.  I thought the left over Star Wars fabric would be a perfect decoupage material.  I had also wanted to try using decoupage on a laptop for quite sometime as I already decoupaged cell phones, and computer tablets previously.

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What you will need to decoupage your Lap Top:

Fabric (Can Also Use Paper, Scrapbook paper)

Mod Podge

Scissors

Paint Brush

Box Cutter Knife

Carefully apply Mod Podge to the top of the computer with a paint brush. Be mindful of the Mod Podge it is important that it not drip into the computer crevices and openings.

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Apply the fabric, smoothing it out with your hands.  Trim away any excess fabric with the scissors. Once it is dry apply more Mod Podge over the fabric to seal it.  I applied three coats total, allowing time to dry between each coat.

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Once dry, I carefully trimmed any excess fabric with the box cutter knife, and then sealed the edges of the fabric with more Mod Podge.

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A laptop that a Jedi would approve of and, the hubby seems to like it too. Here’s to the kid in all of us!

“Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”

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