Friday, December 30, 2011

What is is repurposing?

Here is how I define some of my favorite recycling terms.  I'm sure these definitions will improve over time, but here is my best shot:

Recycle - to alter and adapt for a new use
Refurbish - to freshen up through renovation or repairs

Reimagine  - to reconceive or recreate; imagine again

Reinvent - to remake or redo completely

Repurpose - to give a new purpose or use to an object

Rescue - to recover and free from imminent danger {i.e., the trash} 

Reuse - to use again especially in a different way or after reclaiming or reprocessing 

Upcycle - to adapt an item for a newer {and more chic} use than its intended purpose

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Glass tile magnets

    I've tried making magnets out of the glass gems from the dollar store.  I've had limited success so far.  I've found several of the glass flat backed marbles have imperfections in the glass which can't be disguised when you create the magnet.  Their irregular sizes also create a lot of extra work trimming them up.  In addition, many of the collage sheets etsy sellers offer are set up for square 1" images.   Enter the 1" glass tile magnets!

    I found this great tutorial on the Celtic Mommy blog and put this on my to-do list right away.  I'd love to compare how these turn out with my glass marble magnets.  Pop on over to the Celtic Mommy blog for her great tutorial and lots more pictures!


    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    How to make your own sea glass

    I'm a sucker for sea glass.  Last year we went to the beach in Delaware and I kept looking for those beautiful sea gets so addictive.

    I recently ran across a beautiful picture of sea glass on Pinterest.  I followed the link and in the comments someone mentioned you can make your own by shaking glass in a bottle with water and sand.  That was something I didn't know!

    Okay, so I try it, and unless I want an epic shaking workout that lasts for hours, it's not happening --- FAIL.
    Then I found a few neat tutorials on the Internet that I've been meaning to try.  One tutorial from Dave's Garden involves those little rock tumblers you had when you were a kid.

    The instructions say to "fill the barrel with water so the level of water is just barely above your materials. Add three to four spoonfuls of common sand. Smooth a small amount of Vaseline on the outside of the barrel, then put the lid on securely and let 'er rip. If you simply want to knock the edges from the glass for handling, you don't have to run the machine for days on end. In fact, several hours will do a good job. You can take the tumblers off at any time and check for smoothness. The longer you leave the tumblers running, the smoother and rounder the pieces will become. Alter the time according to what you would like the finished product to look like. Remember, this will likely be a noisy process. If you have a garage or a covered area outdoors, it would be best to run your tumbler(s) where they may run continuously for days without causing anyone a headache."  The tutorial warns against overloading your tumbler {2/3 full is a best bet}.  {Click here for the full tutorial created by Karen Manasco on the Dave's Garden site}

    Another tutorial involves a more industrial method is on YouTube.  I love this guy!  The tutorial is very good and provides instructions if you happen to have a cement mixer on hand --- not moi!  He created a bunch of sea glass for his garden beds and the result is just beautiful.  {Click here for that video}
    The Evil Mad Scientist site also has a tutorial.  His glass {shown below} is also made with a cement mixer.
    Here's my assessment, in order to do this well, you need an investment in time and materials.  Simply shaking a bottle of sand, water, and glass isn't going to give you the best results.  However, the results are beautiful, when you take your time and use the more heavy duty supplies.

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Awesome bowler hat lights

    Sometimes you follow links and blog posts and it's like a never ending rabbit hole.  Other times, you actually see the light at the end of the tunnel and find something really cool.

    I spotted these really cool light fixtures from a designer in London, Jake Phipps.  I think these would be fairly simple to make.

    Though I haven't made them myself, I was able to get some info. off his site that give some clues to how he made these.

    The designer found vintage top hats or bowler hats.  He added an anodised aluminum lining to the hats. He added a suspension lighting kit.  The bulbs he used were 28 watt.  I don't think I've seen that here in the US, but I would assume you'd need to use a very low watt bulb.

    For the lining, the designer used gold and silver.  I prefer the silver or {and I'm not even sure if they sell it} I would prefer a black lining myself.  I'm not sure how the light would reflect off a black lining - probably not too well, but just sayin' what I think would be pretty.

    These look super-cool.  I hope I can try to make these some day!

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Use what you have wrapping {wrapping ideas}

    I'm in love with brown kraft paper wrapping this season.  I think I'm attracted to the earthy tones and effortless, easy look that comes with it.

    Pairing brown paper wrapping with other materials around the house can really yield some beautiful results.  I've looked for a few inspirational ideas that can be done on the cheap.   Here are a few favorites I've collected on my Pinterest account.  Enjoy!

    I love this example of brown paper {you could use brown remnant fabric too}  with an old scarf made in to fabric roses.

    I just love the use of a strip of burlap or burlap ribbon, fastened with a button.  So simple and yet so elegant.

    I just love how a vintage doily combined with a button and ribbon really make this wrapping job look more formal.

    I've found another use for my Cricut!  I've seen variations of this name theme using old book paper, scrapbook paper, sheet music, and maps.  I'd recommend using photocopies of paper so it goes through the Cricut more easily --- I've had some interesting results trying to run old dictionary pages, maps, and vintage sheet music through my cutter - yikes!

    I just love the simplicity of this candy-striped ribbon with a simple handmade tag.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Barnwood headboard {DIY headboard}

    I love salvaged wood, especially barn wood.  The grey tones and unevenness of the planks just draw me in.

    This reclaimed barn wood headboard reminds me of wide open spaces and simpler times.

    I'd love to make this one for our guest room {after I remove the sand textured hunter green paint - ick}.  I'd love to transform the room in to a quiet refuge, and the greys in this headboard seem to say that to me.

    Head on over to Design Sponge for the full tutorial with lots of pictures and a good explanation of how to create a beauty like this.


    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Wood shim mirror

    Wood shims are widely available and very inexpensive.  I found this really great tutorial from Addicted 2 Decorating which shows you how to turn a pile of shims into this fabulous mirror.

    I just love the texture on this mirror!  It would be a great DIY project or a way to repurpose some extra shims into something functional and beautiful.

    Please visit Addicted 2 Decorating for the full DIY.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    A simple digital collage {my process and a freebie}

    After I posted a project in late November about some coasters I'd made {click here for the post}, I had a comment asking for details on how to create a digital collage.  I need a few posts to do this properly since there is a lot to go over.  I'll focus on simpler one color project in this post - my black and white crowns with script background coaster project.  Here goes...

    *FIRST A DISCLAIMER* I just want everyone to know {unless you can't already tell} that I'm by no means a professional graphic designer.  I use the graphics programs I have already on hand {Adobe Photoshop elements, MS Publisher, MS PowerPoint}.  My directions are cobbled together using trial & error and looking techniques up on the Internet.  In other words, I'm sure there is always the "right way," a better way, or faster way to do the techniques I'll share in my post. I'm just sharing how I figured out how to do it and what works for me.  Please leave comments if you have a better tip so I can learn too!

    TIP #1:  KEEP A PERSONAL GRAPHICS CATALOG.  I'll go in to this in more detail in another post, but basically, if you're going to do digital collages, I've found it's easier to go in to your own library of pics and links to images you've already pre-screened and approved that's already saved on your computer then to search for things you like when an idea strikes.  Another huge topic is be sure you know where your images come from and their use restrictions.  The Graphics Fairy site is always a good bet.  I collect vintage books and prints, so I often use those too.

    TIP #2:  KEEP AN INSPIRATION FILE.  Always bookmark artwork and images that strike your fancy, tutorials you'd like to try, etc.  Pinterest is great for this purpose.  I find Somerset's magazines are great inspiration too.  The file helps give you an idea of what others are doing and suggestions for what images look good together, interesting color combinations, etc.  The more you start looking at digital artists, you'll get a feel for how many things to layer, how to make images work together and not compete with each other, and to get a sense of what essentially "looks good."

    TIP #3:  MATCH PROJECT SCALE TO NUMBER OF IMAGES TO LAYER.  You want your project to look layered, but not a hodgepodge of images that don't relate.  To me, the number of images should match the scale of the project.  For a coaster, I'd layer 2 or 3  images{otherwise it gets too busy}.  For larger projects like a canvas, you can safely layer 2 to 3 types of images {e.g., butterflies, script, old postcards} with 2 to 4 variations of each type, for a total of 4 to 12 images.

    Okay, so now on to my crown coasters, I used four crown images {one unique crown design for each coaster} with a background of script writing.

    I downloaded the images I wanted or pulled them from my personal graphics catalog.  To layer them, they need to be transparent, otherwise they'll look like this {see below}

    In a nutshell, to make a transparent image, I go in to Photoshop Elements, and using the magic wand, select the white background.  I then select the inverse {which is the image I really want}, copy it, and paste it in to a new file which has the background set to "transparent."  The resulting image is a crown that can be layered on top of anything without the silly white box {see below}.

    Here is where you play around.  In MS Publisher, I copy in both graphics.  I play with the scale and order until I see something I like.  TIP:  I usually create a box the size of my project {4" for the coaster} which has no fill, but a black line and use it as my view window {be sure to delete the box before printing!}.  This gives me a sense of what the coaster will look like, and is especially helpful when I want partial images that run off the sides {see view windows below}.  I also go to Arrange > Order > Bring to Front in MS Publisher to play with what graphic sits on top {more fun when you're layering multiple images}.

    For this project, that was really it.  I grouped the images and saved the final image as a PDF.  I brought the file to my copy shop who made laser prints for me.  If you're interested in making coasters from the image, you can read the tutorial here.

    If you just want the four crowns with script behind them, click the image below.  Thank you to the Graphics Fairy for posting the free crown images.

    That's a very basic introduction to digital collages.  I hope it helped somebody who wants to try to do this for the first time.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Ugly jars wanted { DIY vases }

    { cool mason jar vases }
    Have a bunch of those unattractive and generic bud vases hanging around?  Are you like me always finding old mason jars at thrift stores and picking them up, just because they're so cheap?  Finally here is a cool idea to make those objects functional { and beautiful } again! 

    Brooke from Pure and Noble took some matte spray paint and painted some "throw away" vases and old mason jars.  She even made custom messages using a glue gun to write out her words { Remember "puffy paint"?  Do they still make that? }  Pop on over to Pure and Noble for the full tutorial.  Love this idea!

    What I'd really like to do next is find a great tutorial to make one of those lovely, outdoorsy mason jar chandeliers!  Hooray for the discarded & topless mason jar!

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Christmas ornament weekend { DIY Christmas ornaments }

    This past weekend I kept my Christmas ornament workshop going.  This time, I layered two Graphics Fairy images together { birds and sheet music } and decoupaged the image on some three inch wood circles.  Here is how I did it.

    First I went to the Graphic Fairy site and downloaded the following images:
    I made the bird images into transparent graphics and layered the images on top of the sheet music in MS publisher.  I then printed them out on my color inkjet.

    I gathered my supplies - 3 inch wood circles { found at Michaels }, ribbon, Mod Podge, card stock, glue gun, and the printouts.

    I decoupaged the back of the paper and put it on the wood circles { below }.  When that dried, I put a top coat of Mod Podge on the ornaments.

    To make the hanger, I took 13 inches of ribbon and taped it to the back of the circle.  I then hot glued a scalloped piece I punched out of card stock { below }.

    Here are the finished three designs { below }.  I need a nicer picture of these hanging on a tree!


    I'm linking this up to:

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Holiday flameless candles gift idea { easy candle DIY }

    Here is a super-simple idea to jazz up some flameless candles for the holidays.  My friend first made these for Halloween with some vintage dictionary pages { the ones with the scary pictures } and she just made a bunch for her shop for the Christmas season.   I think they'd make a great gift too!

    So you know the flameless candles you can buy?  They're very pretty plain white, but you can easily add vintage papers to make them extra special for the holidays.  I found mine at COSTCO, but I've also seen them everywhere, including WalMart.

    { source }

    All you need to do is go in to your stash of vintage papers and cut the paper to size.  If you don't want to use vintage papers, you can made a photocopy of your favorites, use some printed tissue paper, or find some great graphics online.  Next, all you need to do is put a coat of Mod Podge on the candle { don't worry, the candle won't ever get hot enough to melt the Podge }.  When dry, give the paper another coat to seal your work.  And you're done!

    My friend resized the paper so it only covered half of the candle.  This way she could turn it around and still have a regular side when it wasn't the holiday season.  It's your choice.

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    This week I'm thankful for...

    This past week has been amazing!  Lots to be thankful for, including new followers, lots of great comments on my new blog and a few features, crazy!

    1.  On Monday, my printable canvas project { where I tried to copy some artwork I saw at HomeGoods } made it in to Brag Monday at The Graphics Fairy!!!  


    2.  I was super-excited to be the featured blogger on the Hop Along Friday blog hop.  I encourage anyone interested in meeting new people and finding new blogs & ideas, to try the Friday Hop, hosted by Kim at Chubby Cheeks Thinks:

    3.  And then on two days ago, I was awarded the Versatile Blogger Award from Libby at A Perfectly Crazy Life!  Please visit her blog for some great ideas and inspiration!

    There are 3 rules about when you accept this award:
    (1) Thank the person who gave you this award and make sure to link back to their blog

    (2) Share 7 things about yourself
    (3) Pass this award onto 7 recently discovered blogs
    Seven Things About Myself
    1) I recently left the corporate world to stay home with my two kids - 4yrs & 18 mos.
    2) I iron, but only if a craft project requires it!
    3) If I'm excited about something, I can work for days straight without sleeping.
    4) I love all the old Christmas specials from the 1960s (Frosty, Rudolph etc.) and watch them year round.
    5) I just started a new blog and I'm excited to share my projects.  Photographing them in progress is a killer!
    6) About the "stuff I collect & repurpose" - my husband constantly says, "really, someone really likes that stuff and would pay money for that?"
    7) My favorite shows right now are Enchanted and Work of Art 

    I'm passing this award on to:

    It's been a crazy seven days.  So much to be thankful for!

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    5 tips for finding frames on the cheap

    { picture source }
    First off, so everyone doesn't think I only give gifts that cost $5 or less, let me say that if you're buying or making a gift for someone, I wouldn't adhere to all of these tips below.  However, if you need to save money or if the recipient would be pleased at your frugality, then by all means, read on...

    The biggest tip I can tell you is to look beyond what you see on the shelf in front of you.  You have to have a little imagination and be willing to rethink how you shop from "I need a black 8"x10" frame with 1 1/2" molding in an ornate pattern" to "I need a frame; around 8"x10" works best."

    Here are some of my tips for saving money and rethinking frames:

    1.  Paint = new life.  Going to paint it anyway?  Look for frames in colors or finishes you normally wouldn't like.  They are likely on sale and with a coat of paint, who cares what they look like now?  That hot pink ornate frame on clearance could be killer with a coat of paint { in a color you actually like }.

    2.  Look for clearance frames.  You may find some with small chips or finish flaws that can easily be disguised again with paint. Heck, you may be even going for a distressed look anyway.  I've found a few great frames on clearance only because they had odd-sized mats inside.  People rarely need an 8x10 frame with a mat for two separate photos.  If you don't necessarily need a mat, just look at the overall frame size, not the odd mat inside and I promise you'll find some nice things. 

    3.  Rethink.  Think about what you're really using it for and who is really going to inspect it.  If you want a wall of frames only { no pictures, no glass } and no one is going to come up and touch everything, then you can go with some lower end finishes { read plastic }.  Your wedding picture on the mantel...stick with high end.  The free turkey printable you got online that will sit with a bunch of other turkey accessories for only a few weeks during the holidays...couldn't a $5 frame suffice? 

    4.  Don't discriminate.  A few years ago I thought I would never step foot inside a discount store { read Dollar stores, WalMart, Big Lots, etc. } to buy a frame for a project.  Yes, there are poorly made pieces that fall apart when you touch them.  But if you look carefully and shop often, there are pieces that are fairly well made and will stand up to your needs; really!

    5.  Repurpose.  I had a really cute bee etching I bought from John Furches, a North Carolina artist { love his work! }  The etching was reasonably priced, and then I went to get it framed....groan.  Even with my 50% off coupon, my local crafts store and frame shop wouldn't quote me anything less than $50 for any 8"x8" frame I liked.  I just couldn't do it.  One day while wandering the clearance aisles of Michaels, I saw a hideous print all framed up.  The frame was beautiful; the print literally detracted from the frame... I'm serious.  I just removed the other print, backed my etching with some acid free scrapbook paper I had on hand and put the frame back together.  Oh yeah, and it cost me a whopping $3.50 for the frame!

    So next time you need a frame, don't forget to rescue, reimagine, refurbish, recycle, & repurpose.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Weekend projects { Image Transfer Coasters DIY }

    My Saturday night was quite busy.  I started the weekend with four projects in mind to get a jump on Christmas gifts, but quickly realized I was in over my head.  After a day of fun, the kids went to bed, and I got to work.  My two projects this weekend were glass horse ornaments and image transfer coasters.

    The Graphics Fairy had a tutorial a while back on making coasters using Omni Gel transfer medium.  Her tutorial really covers everything you need to know so I'm just linking to it { here }.  I'll share some pictures of my project in process and add a few details that I think may be helpful if you attempt this project.

    For my crown coasters, I layered crown images from the Graphics Fairy found here, here, here, and here with script text I had.

    Here are the supplies you'll need { below }.  Tips:  I went to three Michaels and finally found Omni Gel.  I highly recommend you call them first or purchase the product online.  I've done about 50 coasters using one 8 oz. bottle.  I found my tiles at Home Depot, nine for $3.99.  There are two styles I like for this project, Noce and Chiaro travertine. I've found you really need to inspect the Chiaro tiles though, as they tend to get larger pits in them; Noce not as much.  As mentioned in the Graphics Fairy tutorial, you need to go to your copy shop and have a color laser jet print of your images.  No need to reverse the image for this transfer technique.  The cork is contact paper from Home Depot.

    I wanted to share a quick picture of the Omni gel bushed on the paper { below }.  Even when dry, there is a sheen on the images.

    Here is me wiping the paper off the back of the gel transfer { below }.  This always takes longer than I expect!  Tip:  I use an old toothbrush to help get all the paper off the transfer.

    Image transfers drying on paper towels pre-tile coaster { below }.

    My coaster assembly line { below } from the weekend.  I adhered the gel transfer with another coat of Omni Gel and smoothed down with a brayer and my fingers.

    Here is a closeup of my coasters drying { below }.  I'm really excited about how the coasters turned out!

    On to project #2!  I covered how to make these horse ornaments earlier on my blog { here }.  Here is a picture of my assembly line of ornaments drying and pre-ribbon { below }.

    Here is a closeup of my favorite horse ornament from this weekend { below }.

    Thanks for stopping by.   Have a great week!   I'm linking this one up to: