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.