Heaven… I’m in Heaven

Mary, of Be Creative Mary fame, posted about this amazing place a couple weeks ago and I’ve been planning a trip every since:  http://becreativemary.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/day-226-goodwill-hunting-reusing-and-recyling/

The Resources for Rhode Island Educators, http://www.rrie.org/, is an amazing non-profit that takes materials from manufacturers to sell to the public for pennies a pound.  It can be anything from finished products (there were a lot of Martha Stewart Office things) to random do-dads used to make things.  For a $10 donation, we got a one day membership (a full year is $60, but it’s about 1 1/2 hours away so I’m not sure how often we’ll be going), and then most of the stuff they have is 40 cents a pound (some things are priced individually, but not much).  It was a veritable cornucopia of stuff for upcycling projects.

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There are some samples of things, here and there, that people have made, but there wasn’t much fancy about this place.  It just leaves everything up to your imagination.  The staff was nice and it’s amazing that so many business are willing to participate.  It was really stocked to the gills.

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So, for the unbelievable sum of $12.50 (plus the $10 I gave them for the try-out membership and a little extra I gave for a donation), here was my amazing haul:

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I don’t really have specific ideas for a lot of it, but here’s what I was initially thinking when I saw some of this.  The tiles and glass are sure to become some kind of mosaic.  I’m going to give a lot of the sticky notes to my boy’s teacher (they were on her classroom “wish-list”).  I’ve been wanting some of those tags for ages and there was a whole bin of Martha Stewart Office stuff- I wonder if her company donated them or if they came from a retailer who hadn’t been able to sell them.  I’m thinking of making something for a friend of mine who loves horses out of some of the ribbon- it was from a huge barrel that seemed to have come from a company that makes prize ribbons.  I got a ton, so I’m sure I’ll donate a lot of it to my favorite local upcycling store, Knack (http://www.knack.org/) (if you didn’t see my post about it, please check it out- it’s my absolute favorite place in the world: https://craftymadre.com/2013/07/19/knack-my-new-favorite-place/)  I’m also planning to donate the conical spools to Knack.  They have kids craft workshops every other weekend and I was thinking these would make a great Christmas tree project.  The random knick-knacks and bottle tops were mostly my boy’s idea.  He kept picking up things out of bins and saying “I could use that.”  (A boy after my own heart.)  I did pick out the gold bottle tops to make Christmas ornaments for family this year (based on a craft workshop at Knack that’s in the above post).  And the sheets of paper are absolutely awesome.  The silver is sticky on the back (if I’d realized it, I probably would have gotten more).  I’ll have wrapping paper for a year.

My boy had as much fun as me, finding random things and suggesting what he would do with them.  This is my favorite find of his, a piece of clear plexiglass with a blue rectangle across the middle, which I’m going to try to make into an outdoor gardening bench (he calls himself “Luigi-Sam” in this picture:

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There was so, so, so much more that I wanted and my amazing wife gave me $60 to spend.  But, I knew I’d have no where to put it when I got it home.  I’m sure that we’ll be back again soon, though.  The bonus- there’s a Dave and Buster’s nearby, so I can always promise my wife a trip there when we go (which is where we spent the rest of the afternoon as a final hurrah before the boy starts school).  I’m so glad I saw Mary’s post about this amazing place!

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Knife-block redo and barstool upcycle

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My wife suggested I paint our knife-block but I hesitated for a bit because it came with a expensive knife set from SharpenedKnife that my parents gave me. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right?  And she found this cool example and sent me the Pin, so I couldn’t resist.

http://www.johnnyinadress.com/2011/03/beautify-that-boring-knife-block.html?m=1

And the first picture is an awesome bar stool turned (literally) into wrapping paper storage. We got the idea from Pinterest (where else?) and then the wife happened across a somewhat broken stool at a huge tag sale to benefit a local animal shelter. I promised to make the stool into a wrapping paper caddy if she promised not to bring home another dog. Here’s the inspiration for the stool:
http://96195.com/pic-759.html

I tried out Crackle for the first time on both of these.  It was actually kind of a ruse for the wife’s benefit. She’s much more of a contemporary, bright color kind of person and I’m more of a shabby-chic kind of person. So, I started with the Rachel Ray green that she wants to do our kitchen in (along with her eggplant and orange). She loved it, but then I put the crackle and yellow over them both (to go with our current shabby-kitchen).
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The stool was a lot of fun to make. I used ribbon to replace a couple missing rungs with bottle caps instead of washers to hold it on. On the feet (now the tops) I decoupaged paper from an end-page from a used book from the same tag sale and wrapped some washi tape around it.  I used one of the thrift store table cloths I got for my parents’ 50th anniversary to make a few pockets to hold tape, bows, ribbon and such. It was my first time using the button holer (is that a word?) on my sewing machine and it was so cool. It says you can use it to sew on the buttons, too, but I didn’t quite trust it (or myself). I had a vision of a flying needles and broken buttons so I just sewed them by hand.ImageImage

For the knife-block I made a stencil out of cardstock to tie in with the boarder in the kitchen and varnished the heck out of it (she tends to make a bit of a mess when she’s cooking, so hopefully that will make for easier cleanup). I told her I could repaint it without the crackle if/when we redo the kitchen. I even think my parents would approve!

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Building a little garden and an upcycled planter

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We’re hosting the family reunion this year, so on Labor Day weekend about 25 people will all descend on my parents’ house.  My mom is getting a little worried, though, because they’d planned on having landscaping done this summer but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be even started by then.  Don’t get me wrong.  My parents have a beautiful, big yard, but it’s just not everything my mom wishes it would be.  So, today I went over and helped brighten up a little corner of it, by the front of the house, as a little eye candy when people were coming in.

This little area off the driveway used to be a little flower bed but has long-since been filled with weeds, grass, and 3 black-eyed susans.  I, of course, forgot to take a “before”, but trust me when I say that it was not pretty.  We dug it up with the help of my handy-dandy Fiskars weeder and a little old fashioned elbow grease.  My mom and I went shopping at the local garden center (I love it there, especially when I’m not spending my own money) and picked up some mums to put in 3 pots my mom had (since they’ll be in full bloom right around the time of the reunion) and some pretty ornamental cabbage as accents.  Here is is before the mulch:ImageMy folks had the sandstone in the backyard and it made a perfect border. My mom’s going to see if there’s any more at the garden center to replace the random rocks we put along the driveway.  They were kind of an afterthought but made a nice addition.  Image

And these were the finishing touches:

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The petrified tree chunk was hidden behind a bunch of bushes in another garden bed.  It had originally come from a huge tree in our church lawn that was cut down a few years ago, much to may people in the congregation’s dismay.  And I discovered the little frog when I was putting the gardening tools away in the shed.  He was my grandma’s and fit in perfectly.  It’s almost like we had unknowingly saved a spot just for him.  Maybe she had some part in that, looking down on us.

And here’s my latest upcycled gardening planter, compliments of Heather at Whipperberry.  http://whipperberry.com/2013/07/hanging-succulent-garden.html#_a5y_p=767637Image

She used International Delights creamer containers, which I certainly have plenty of, but I wanted to go with something a little more natural looking (as natural as plastic can be) by not painting them.  So, I used a couple different sized Powerade bottles (my wife loves that stuff) because they’re clear.  (Little Rufus wanted in on the action.)

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I cut holes in them with my X-acto knife, making a little flap for the plant to rest on, and cut small triangles in the bottoms for drainage.  I filled the bottle about half full with a loose dirt mix and not-very-delicately shoved the roots into the hole.  I had picked up these little Hens and Chicks from my favorite farm stand a couple weeks ago just for this project.  To hang them, I used some LAN wire that I saved from taking apart a computer keyboard about a year ago.  It totally went with the upcycle theme and it was green.  What could be better?  I just tied it onto the ring left over from the top and hung them from our gazebo.

At the garden center today, I got this cute, tiny little succulent and I’m planning to put it in a third bottle (the smallest size).  Three is a very good number in feng shui, representing creativity, family, and self-expression.  You can also see the threes in the plot at my folks’.  I know that at least family will be in abundance in a couple weeks.  I’m looking forward to it!

Upcycled chair planter going away gift

A close friend of mine is moving away, from where I live in Massachusetts (where she’d been for the past few years for grad school) back to Mississippi (where she was from). I’ve already got all the travel web sites set to e-mail me when there is a good fare from here to there, but, in the meantime, I had to make something as a going away present. She rented a truck to drive everything down herself, so what better, then, than a new piece of furniture to throw on board.

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But, seriously, this was really fun to make and it’s not too big- just made out of a kid’s sized chair. I’d actually been eyeing the chair for a long time and had finally decided that my boy had officially grown out of it. I started off by drawing around the top of the pot I wanted to use and cutting a hole through the seat about 1/4″ in from the circle I’d drawn with my handy jigsaw. Of course, the boards in the center that I cut all the way through then got a little wobbly because they were only being held on by a staple. So, I used the scrap pieces from the hole I cut and some wood glue to shore them up.

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This was my second attempt ever at using crackle, and I went with Martha Stewart’s (mostly because that was the one that came in the biggest bottle at Michaels). I started off with a nice, soft green acrylic, then did the crackle, then went over it with a deep blue outdoor acrylic. I applied them all with sponge brushes and a thin bristled brush to get into the cracks. It actually worked really well and I only had to learn once not to try to touch up the top coat after it had started drying (because the crackle effect only works on the first coat over it). I also had to learn that when you use crackle when it’s humid in a room without air conditioning it takes a REALLY long time to dry.

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I used my new white Pitt pen to do some doodling on it and write the phrase “Keep out of the Weeds”. It was kind of a cross between “Keep off the grass” and being “in the weeds”- an expression she uses when she’s overwhelmed with work (which was pretty frequent during grad school).

I lacquered the heck out of it with both brush on and spray on polyurethane. I’m hoping it will stand up to the elements outside. Part of why I made this is because she’s moving from the apartment she’s been renting back to the home she owns, so she’ll have some more room for outdoor decor.

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I did a crackle finish on the pot I put in it, too. The sad flower in the photo is actually just a seed I started not too long ago. I didn’t give it to her with a plant in it (I figured that would add insult to injury in terms of her packing responsibilities).

The finishing touch was the bottlecaps I attached with little brad nails I had pulled out of the dresser drawer I made into a shelf. We might have spent one or two nights drinking Mike’s hard lemonade in the past few years. Just sayin’…

Anyway, I’m really happy with it but really sad about the occasion for the gift. I heard Mississippi has a great St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

I made a stamp!

I’ve been seeing so many people making their own stamps lately and have been dying to try… so here goes!  I don’t have any fancy carving tools and am not quite willing to invest in them yet.  I also saw a warning on a blog not to waste time with the cheap ones (http://thegiftshed.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/wednesday-wip-26/).  I tried potato stamps recently with my VBC kids, and Dawn gave me the last bit of encouragement I needed with the beautiful eraser stamps she posted yesterday (http://girlunwinding.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/t-tuesday-and-some-art/).

I saw Aaron at Imperfect Impulses make a stamp out of foam using a die cutter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoIiFTjDYzs&list=UUjU04ybwhaF0OyvQp-4Y1Eg).  Have I mentioned how much I love his YouTube tutorials?  Be sure to check out his blog, too: http://imperfectimpulses.wordpress.com/.  I don’t have a die cutter but I do have an X-acto knife and I’m not afraid to use it.  🙂

I also happened to have saved the spool from my weed whacker last time I changed it (have I mentioned I save everything?) and it seemed like the perfect size for a stamp.  I traced it onto a piece of foam and got to stamp cutting.  I figured I’d start with a sun, because it’s a pretty versatile image to have and seemed easy enough.  On the other side of the spool, I used the scraps from the sun to make a couple little flying birds.  And Ta da!

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A recent tutorial from The Frugal Crafter showed me some neat ways to use markers to stamp different colors at once and then color them in.  She used chalk for color, which I don’t have, but colored pencils worked well.  (http://thefrugalcrafter.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/old-office-labels-and-osa-challenge-235/)

I used my new creations on an art journal page.  I used to do art journaling pretty regularly but haven’t in so long.  I broke out an old journal and decided to use it for experimenting, the way I’ve been using index cards for the past couple months.  And here it is:

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I’m going to submit it to the Artists in Blogland “Color this Quote” Challenge: http://artistsinblogland.blogspot.com/2013/08/color-this-quote-august-challenge.html  

“Seize the Day” seemed like a pretty perfect quote for my jumping into stamp making.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and there’s no time like the present to start.  I used my stamp press to lay out the words and branches and the “S” is from a new sheet of letters stamps I got from The Stampsmith (http://www.stampsmith.net/).  I watercolored around the stamps for a little background.  Of course, as soon as I finished it, I realized that I spelled “seize” wrong.  What happened to “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c'”?  Oh well, that’s what my Photostamper app is for.

I’m also going to submit this to Our Creative Corner’s “Words, Words, Words” challenge.  It seems kind of strangely appropriate, given my spelling mistake.  Ha!  http://ourcreativecorner6.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/words-words-words.html

All in all, I’m pretty excited about my new handmade stamp and even more excited to have started art journaling again.

Knack- My New Favorite Place!

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A pop-up store I went to last year has opened up permanently and I’m SO EXCITED.  The pop-up store was all arts and crafts made from upcycled materials.  I got a bunch of holiday gifts there last year.  The new space is like the pop-up store on steroids.  It was founded by two upcycle artists in the area who are so creative and talented that it makes me crazy!  Not only does it have great finished upcycled crafts to buy, but they have tons of upcycled materials to buy, as well.  And really cool, unique ones, at that.  The first time I went, I ended up with a bunch of clear VHS tape cases that I’m going to use to store supplies (6 for $1- who can beat that!?).  I also got some random metal objects that I want to experiment on with welding (I know, “experiment” and “welding” don’t sound like the safest combination- do not try that at home).

Here’s the link to their web site and they also have a Facebook page:

http://www.knack.org

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And the coolest part is that they have a crafting space and classes for kids every other weekend.  We’ve gone twice and had so much fun.  The first time, we decorated the handles of marshmallow sticks.  A local artist had donated the handles from a bunch of spatulas that he had only used the tops of for a piece (I’d love to see that). Amber used twisted wire to make a long skewer and then supplied home-made mod podge and tons of fabrics, yarn, paints, and stickers to decorate the handles.  Here’s mine (and the neat way she attached the wire to extend the handle):

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This is my wife’s.  I think hers is my favorite.  She put on letter stickers, painted over them, and pealed them off.

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And our boy with his:

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He won’t do crafts with me at home, but he’s loved doing these at Knack.  Maybe it’s because he’s a captive audience when we’re out.  Also, one of the women who owns the store has a couple boys about his age so I think she has his demographic in mind when selecting materials and projects.  (For this one, he found some camo fabric and who doesn’t like the prospect of making something that can be used to make s’mores?)

The next project we did was these simple but really cute bottle top hanging ornaments.  I think I know what our family craft for the holidays is going to be this year.  Try to guess whose is whose in the pictures below:

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Okay, so I gave it away with the collage of our boy working on his.  But, I think it’s funny that my wife and our boy have a really similar ascetic.  (Yes, hers is the Batman/Catwoman themed one.)

If you’re going to be in Western Massachusetts (US), I totally suggest you check this place out!  There are endless possibilities  for ideas, materials, and inspiration.  Next week’s craft: wine bottle cork boats.  Can’t Wait!!!

A few more ICADs- on the home stretch

ImageI saw a “recipe” for making spray ink on a blog recently and decided to try it out.  Not only would it be a money saver, but it would also be a way to upcycle come spray bottles I already have and a new technique to try- TRIPLE WIN!  Here’s the blog with the really simple instructions:

http://crippledpapercrafter.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/good-luck-going-away-gift-and-homemade-spray-ink/

I started out all these cards with a little spray-ink from the first bottle I made.  The only glitch I found was that the spray-nozzle seemed to get clogged up after not too long.  I think I’ll have to clear it out with water pretty frequently.  When I started out, I didn’t have as much paint in the solution, but it wasn’t very dark on the page, so I guess the clogged sprayer is the price I pay for wanting more color.  I also used the tulle to make some texture on the card with a brush in the same color paint.

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I had printed this little poem/blessing on a card with my new printer when I was testing it out a couple weeks ago.  It had come to my attention when I saw a blogger post a request from Jan to let people know that it was actually her work, rather than the work of someone else it was mistakenly being attributed to.  Here’s that post:

http://masterbard.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/because-i-love/

And here’s a link to one of Jan’s blogs:

http://paintedprayerbook.com/

I love Jan’s work and am going to a retreat being sponsored by my church that she’s leading in the fall.  I can’t wait.  I used the washi tape prompt on this one for just a little more color, but I didn’t want to do too much to it because I think the words are just beautiful as they are.ImageImage

These last two I just made for fun.  The Dr. Seuss quote is one of my wife’s favorites so I’m going to put it in a little frame for her office (and the rainbow wording is a big theme for us, for obvious reasons).  I tried using some “floating medium” I had around but couldn’t really figure out what it did.  I have to check out some tutorials and try it again when I have some more time and patience.

The last one is just a quote that popped into my head with the combo of the “ocean” and “bicycle” prompts.  I kind of messed up the bicycle wheel, but it’s only an index card, after all.  After the spray clogged, I just took the cap off and started flicking and wiping the straw on the card.  I made a little washi tape fish and then put on the reverse of the fish for good measure.  (Who’s ever seen an ocean with only one fish?)

Here are a few other ICAD posts from some of my other favorite bloggers:

http://pixelknitsponderings.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/index-card-a-day-2013-week-6/  – She used some spray-inks this week, too.  I love all the techniques she tried, especially her scrap washi heart (I need to start my own scrap-washi collection, now.)

http://defineyourjoy.com/2013/07/14/this-weeks-index-cards-2/ – I know I’ve already linked to Natasha’s cards but I just love them and her daughter is still doing them right along with her.  She was just published in Altered Arts Magazine, which is the coolest thing in the world.  (She totally deserves it.)

http://imperfectimpulses.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/idle-impulses/  – And here’s another blog I recently started following.  I especially love his art journal stuff and I’ve watched a bunch of his tutorials on YouTube.  They’re not only fun to watch, they teach great techniques.  Here’s his YouTube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjU04ybwhaF0OyvQp-4Y1Eg

Thanks for looking.  Two more weeks of ICAD… what will be my next “challenge”???