Tag Archives: re-purposing

red slate

The First Annual Shameless Self-Promotion Of Maison Steinbuchel Products

“I’ve said it before, and by gosh, I’ll say it again — don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.”― Emlyn Chand
Warning Shameless Promotion Below!
ShamelessYou know by now from my BLOG posts, that I have an on-line ETSY shop.  This is primarily where I market items I re-purpose from vintage materials.  This the Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose side of this website.  The other is the Giving Lost Stories A Voice BLOG content.  
Most of these materials come from the restoration and re-habing of historic homes.  We are careful to reuse all we can in the homes themselves.  However, inevitably materials and found objects remain after.  I find even the most obscure object can be remade – usually.
At the moment, there are thirty-five or so unique, one-of-a-kind

Shamelessitems I know you need!

 

  • It’s gift time!
  • It’s decorating time!
and my master packager-shipper is standing by to whisk these off to you in record time.
Shameless Reasons To Purchase Here
ShamelessDoes it help to know that the proceeds of these products go into the restoration maintenance fund for Maison Steinbuchel?  The idea is, if the material itself cannot be reused in the project then the proceeds from a sale can.
It helps to know that when you order multiple items, they are packaged and shipped as one to save on shipping?  We refund any and all overage on the calculated shipping done via the ETSY process and charge nothing for handling.
The fact that there is NO SALES TAX ?  In many cases that off-sets shipping.
Did I mention unique?  Handmade? One-of-a-kind?Shameless
Usually a story accompanies the product including information on where materials came from and how the re-purpose was done.  These are reflected in the description of each item but if you have questions I am glad to answer.
Examples of the products are pictured, but there are many more items in my shop.
and happy shopping from the comfort of your home.
Is there an item you particularly like? Please let me know by posting in the comments below OR in my ETSY shop simply make it a “favorite”.  

What Wreaths and Frames Add To Your Life

Bridges become frames for looking at the world around us. – Bruce Jackson
 Special seasons and events, like the approaching holidays, bring out equally special decor.  Floral arrangements, seasonal colors and items that represent memories of past celebrations are displayed. They are combined with updated items that are more than simple visual beauty.  They serve to pull special times from the past into this new celebration.
Two familiar forms support various vignettes:  the wreath and the frame.  Over the past few years they have become somewhat interchangeable in application.  But before demonstrating what I am referring to, lets explore the roots of these two forms.
Frames , Wreaths and Smiling Etrucstians
The word wreath comes from Middle English wrethe and from Old English writha, band.  Wreaths have a long and distinguished history, going back to the ancient  Etruscan 
civilization in Southern Europe.  I learned about this people when visiting the Vatican Museum in 1985.  One comment about this civilization that was borne out in the  artifacts is that:   “these must have been a happy peoples, as most representations show them smiling.” My husband and I got a giggle out of that as we looked over the various paintings and statues of these “smiling Etruscans”.
Wreaths came to be used as crowns representing various levels of honor, rank or even rule.  When placed on the final resting place of a loved one, it represents devotion for a life that has passed from this earth.  Today we use wreaths as decoration but in many cases represent an eternal presence in our celebrations.
Frames Function

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Leftovers In Madagascar

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“Don’t make excuses for not working – make things with the time, space and materials you have, right now” – Austin Kleon – Steal like an artist
 madagascar
madagascar In August 1993 I was assigned to a team of four to conduct a civil aviation assessment of the country of Madagascar’s aviation system.  The United States FAA had been invited, via the US Ambassador, by the Malagasy authorities to conduct this review.
These assessments are done on a reimbursable basis when it is
determined we can offer expertise not available through another channel.  It was a two week trip including travel to and from the assignment, so the majority of our time in country was spent taking care
of business.
We did, however, have a few hours to take in sights here and there (yes, I got to see lemurs in the wild).  One side trip was a trip over lunch break to the large local outdoor market along L’ Avenue de l’Independance.  It was massive.  We found some treasures to

bring back as gifts and remembrances.  As we walked back from the market, there were stray vendors along the street with their wares spread out on the ground.

Thrift Madagascar Style

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Lath and Porcelain – Leftovers From the Attic

lath

What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the houses for you and me.
We plant the rafters, the shingles, the floors,
We plant the studding, the lath, the doors,
The beams  and siding, all parts that be;
We plant the house when we plant the tree.
by the American author, Henry Abbey (1842-1911)
 The second verse of the Poem “What do we Plant?” reminds one of the value of reusing, re-purposing and re-cycling.  These actions honor the source of such things, some element of creation provided the needed ingredient for some aspect of life on earth.  It also reminds me that second and third uses are honorable as well.  It helps make the process of rehabbing and restoring a house more palatable. Believe me, one needs all the help one can get in the midst of the dirt, demo and tedium that follows the initial dream and vision.
The Backstory
We purchased a couple of properties next to our historic house some years ago.  We were not looking to get into the business of being landlords, but when the homes went up for sale, the likelihood they would become rentals was high, so we bought them in order to be the ones choosing our neighbors.  When one of the homes was vacated we began readying it to rent again.  Partway through the process, we decided to rehab it for us to move into so that the historic restoration of our home could proceed without our having to live in the mess and inevitable mayhem.

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The Denim Collection – The Diverse Life of a French Fabric

“When in doubt, wear denim” – unknown
“I’ll never throw away my blue jeans.” –  Susan Ford
                        denim denim
I like denim.  I am glad that denim has burst well beyond its original hard-working, sturdy, cowboy, country ranch realm and into all things blue.  In fashion and decorating is it considered a neutral, like gray, black and the beiges.
I wear a lot of denim.  Even more since I “retired” and work from my home.  Over the years, between my husband and I, I have amassed a  lot of used denim that has gone beyond its wearable stage, yet seeds of  life remain.  In this state it has almost endless possibilities.
Where Did It Come From?
denimA bit of research revealed that The name “denim” comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called “Serge de Nîmes”, initially made in Nîmes, France, hence “de Nîmes” – “denim”.  Who would have thought.  Perhaps that is why Yves Saint Laurent said:  “I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal,

 

Denim Diversity
In the W.B. Allistion House, the “little house” we are about to finish rehabbing, I am using denim as the accent fabric for the attic decor.  No, it is not a country theme, but this fabric compliments the warm vintage wood tones and soft blue gray color pallet I am going with. This will be a home office space for both my husband and I, as well as a library and media space.
denimI want a soft, relaxing, creative air, that is gender neutral.  We will be living in this house while renovations of the “big house”, Maison Steinbuchel. take place.  It will serve as a retreat from activity, decisions and, yes, the stress, this project may bring.  It will eventually serve as a guest house on the property.
simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.”
 “Denim Is a  Way  of Life”
denimIn addition to wearing and decorating with denim, I make stuff.  There is a section of my on-line shop named “The Denim Collection”, that features these products.  Here are some examples.  The photos have links that will provide details on how they were made, what

denimwent into the item and its creative origin.

You could make some of these things yourself, but you have enough to do.   I have already done the hard work!
The Holidays are on their way.
Which Item do you favor?  Let me know in the comments below.  Don’t forget to subscribe!
 
easels

How To Turn A TV Stand Into Wooden Easels

Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage. – Julia Cameron
I have been working on my vision boards.  I keep them simple using foam core boards from the Dollar Store.  However, I grew tired of them sitting on the floor in the corner and falling over.  I decided I needed a couple of easels to put them on, so I consulted my go to idea place, Pinterest.
All I needed were three boards, a hinge and something to rest the pictures on.  I was pretty sure I had all I needed in my stash of reclaimed materials and hardware.  As I was letting the idea percolate, I spotted an old TV stand that had belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  We  used it for a number of years as a TV stand, but those days were gone.  The stand was was collecting dust looking for a new life.
Easels Made Easy
As I looked it over, I realized it had all of the elements I needed to make two nice wood easels.  No cutting needed.  I used every part of the stand except the shelf that was below where the TV sat.  The shelf will no doubt find a new home in another project.

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A Vertical Garden for Maison Steinbuchel

The gardener knows how to turn garbage into compost. Therefore our anger, sadness, and fear is the best compost for our compassion.  
Kayla Mueller

For over a ycompostear I have had an image in my head of a vertical garden at the back of one of our lots.  One problem:  there were four bins of compost in the spot where this needed to go.  The bins were in bad shape and needed redoing, and moving it would be a big job.

With all the gardens and a yard that surround our Historic Home along with the houses we have incorporated into the “estate’, we have a lot of yard waste.  We use a composting mower for the lawns but there remains the leavings of:
  • flower beds and borders
  • rose gardens
  • a secret garden
  • an herb garden
  • a kitchen garden (the French call it a potager)
 and of course trees.  Lots of tress.  So we compost.  I do not fuss over composting, just chuck the yard debris into the bins and let mother nature do her thing.  All that turning and churning defeats one of the main benefits of composting:  saving labor.  With compost bins at hand there is no:
  • bagging and dragging garden leavings for trash pickup (not to mention the extra cost of bags and hauling)
  • bundling of limbs and branches (we have a muncher shredder to speed up the process)
  • tramping to the garden center to lug bags of compost home – it just waits for me in my bin until needed.
 We started over fifteen years ago by building Four 4′ x 4′ x 4′ bins out of scrap lumber and old wire fence.  It served us well.  We even moved it once and did a bit of shoring up at the time, but the time had come for a fresh start.  The bins needed redoing and I needed this spot for my vision.  This moving a 16′ x 4′ x 4′ compost pile was a process.
 We built new bins out of pallets in a different location.  It took thirteen pallets to do what compostwe needed.  We also built two solid wood bins to hold the already composted soil.  The soil was sifted from the old bins into the new ones, then the old bins were torn apart.  Most of this weathered wood is set aside for some pallet shelves.
The Vertical Garden Comes to Light
With the bins moved, we were then able to build the vertical garden using (of course) stuff we had on hand:

compost

  • T-posts left from other projects (5 x $3.00)
  • Four weathered pallets left from the old bins (4 x $5.00)
  • Screws and hardware from our stash ($25.00)
  • A mixture of hanging baskets I have managed to accumulate over the years, and (of course) ($30-$60.00)
  • composted soil and plants

Vintage Lath and Porcelain

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
I re-purpose slath porcelaintuff.  I primarily use materials left from the rehabbing of our 120+ year old houses. There is always lots of vintage wood that many rehab-ers toss out as scrap, especially the raw stuff from the plaster walls:  lath.  I love this stuff.  It’s so raw and rustic.
Then there are all those cute, interestingly shaped porcelain parts from replacing knob and tube electrical.  Buckets of them.  Over the holidays, as I awoke one morning, a plan in the form of images, for making wood boxes and trays using the lath and porcelain, popped into my head.
I had already made some small lath boxes, but this added a whole new genre for me!  Each would be unique, yet just using the same basic ingredients:  Lath and Porcelain bits.  I also had a ready-made painted wood box that was found at an estate sale to add to the mix.
The Concept
 When using reclaimed materials, I let the materials dictate dimension rather than deciding on a certain size ahead of time.  Ragged ends, broken and cracked parts must be removed, leaving random lengths.   In the end, for a tray all you need to start is four lengths of wood, two pairs the same.  If all four happen to be the same, you have a square, if two and two, it’s a rectangle.  I have not ventured into other forms, such as triangles and rhombuses (hey I took geometry!)  as that requires fancier cutting of the joints than I care to do at this point.  Ninety degree cuts only for me!
 The Tools:
  • a Stanley hand miter saw (that, as I said, I only use for 90 degreelath porcelain cuts for now)
  • a small hammer (for small brads)
  • a set of corner picture frame clamps (estate sale find)
  • a multi-purpose screw driver
  • a cordless power drill (my one power tool)

The Supplies:

  • Greased Lightning for cleaning the porcelain parts
  • Nitrate gloves (to protect my manicure – of course!)
  • Wood glue
  • E-600 glue (it will hold anything!)
  • Lots of small brads and screws (estate sale finds)
  • Buckets of hex nuts and bolts (leftovers)
  • Paint samples.  I generally do not paint lath, but there are other bits I may add some color to.
 The Steps
  • Cut the Lath into pairs of the same length.  Most of the time I have already cleaned it, but if needed, I take a wire brush for a final scrub.
  • Place into the frame clamps, gluing as you go
  • Using a very small drill bit, drill two small pilot holes in each joint.  Do not skip this step!  125 year old wood is well seasoned and can be brittle – this will avoid cracking.
  • Nail each corner and let set for a few hours or overnight.
  • Measure the bottom and cut the lengths of lath or other wood material for the base.  I have used reclaimed cedar shingles or other bits of scrap wood as long as they are the same thickness
  • Cut, glue and nail the base
 lath porcelain
At thislath porcelain point the box is complete.  I have added felt pads on the bottom, and fabric inserts in the tray just to give it a bit of polish.  However, the insulator bits made cute legs and handles.  I have also used vintage porcelain door knobs and handles.
lath porcelain
My next project will be to take a wooden clothes rack that Maggie the cat managed to destroy and turn it into, let’s see, a breakfast tray or two?  Art? Picture frames?  stay tuned….

 

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Formed Out Of The Unseen – Limitlessness

img_0922I have been leading a class at my church using the book:  Living Forward.  We have been meeting on Sunday evenings for two hours.  Fundamental to this process is cultivating the ability to first,  acknowledge where one is at present and then to “see”, to imagine, to dream about how you want things to be formed.

This takes courage, even grit, for most of us who are 50+.  For us, life has formed and informed us in both good and bad ways.  This process brings one face to face with baggage that needs unpacking.  I suppose it is true for all ages, but there is a difference once one has a few years behind you.

For everyone it is a choice.  Do we wish to:

  • remain on our current path,
  • simply tweak our current journey or
  • make an about face?

Choosing, being intentional, will at least make us aware so that there are no regrets, no matter what choice we make.

Working in the Unseen

Imagination.  DrA Discarded Wooden Chaireaming.  Reaching into the invisible and acting on what we see.  This is a cultivated skill.

In talking with our group, we have discussed real ways in which we can do this.  One of the tangible ways I work my imagining muscle is through re-purposing and up-cycling found objects.  Looking at a discarded, outdated or broken item and imagining it into something new, starts in a place within that only I can see.  Most of the time it takes a combination of items that I put together to make this happen.

Formed – From Inspiration to Reality

 

Formed
Elements of a Dream

Here is one of my recent projects.  It started with inspiration on Pinterest.  I enjoy seeing what others have done and yes, it gets my creating juices going.

My version started with a discarded chair, an old table, a bit of scalloped wood trim and vintage porcelain electrical insulator parts.  A few dowels, decorative screws, glue and paint and here you go, a cute decorative shelf!  It is looking for a permanent home at Kechi Korner. 

 

The point is, I saw this piece in my imagination before it existed.  The individual parts were junk, trash, useless (except perhaps for firewood) until it became imagined.  That had to happen before it could be.  I didn’t have to go get anything.  All of the parts were in my possession including the vision to see what could be.
Overcoming Obstacles
Of Course, the process of it “becoming” was not overnight nor without some obstacles.  I had to get help from my spouse for final assembly as I did not have the skills needed to get it into a viable final form.  Sometimes we need help from those around us:  family, friends, pastor, priest, counselor, co-workers – or our Creator God.   He is always ready to interact with us.
What is in your imagination waiting for expression?  What one stop can you take today to begin to let that expression happen?

Leftovers – The Loaves and Fishes of Life

Using leftovers.  I enjoy re-doing and re-making things.  I always have.  Taking what I have on hand and making something useful again:
  • Whatever I might have in the pantry or frig becomes a one-time kind of meal.
  • Scraps of cloth become a comforter, pillow or something for the wall.  S
  • craps of wood become art, wooden trays or even furniture.
Things that began life as one thing are “up-cycled” into a new life.  So where did this tendency come from?
For me, some came out of necessity.  Using and reusing was a way of life in the world I grew up in.
  • Dad, an auto salvage operator took old cars apart.  They were scrapped out for usable parts and metal.   Some parts were refurbished and resold, others just reused as is on another vehicle.
  • Clothes were re-done and handed down.  If they were too worn out, the cloth was remade into quilts, comforters or some other useful item (remember cloth dust rags?).
  • Mom composted in the garden and turned grass clippings and leaves into flower beds (no pesticides were used!).
 Today, it is called being “green” by recycling, up-cycling and re-purposing.  For us it was being practical and frugal.  We were not poor, we just conserved cash for what only cash could buy and avoided waste of things and time.  In my small town there was retail, but not the Walmart kind of retail.  Many things had to be ordered through mail order catalogs or we made the occasional shopping trip to “the city”.
In addition, there was my grand-parents farm where nothing was wasted.  Even what did go into the trash was used as fuel for the stove.  Paper, bits of wood and anything that would burn would make it into the incinerator.  Along with some of the methods used by my parents, my grand-parent’s cows, pigs and chickens ate, in addition to their regular feed, vegetable and fruit scraps.  The dogs and barn cats  were glad recipients of meat scraps and bones (after they were boiled for broth, of course).  Bailing wire was the all purpose duct-tape for farm machinery (until a proper repair could be made).  Well, you get the idea.
At the same time, I do not consider myself “cheap”.  I enjoy nice new things.  I have some of the finest Irish China, French and German crystal and German flatware there is.  We only use it a few times a year and I do not feel one bit guilty about it.  None-the-less, that thing in me that is profoundly satisfied when an old object is remade and given new life is undeniable.  Aside from the practical aspects, there is actually a deeper root to all of this.
 Loaves and Fishes – Divine Leftoversleftovers
It is found in the two stories of multiplying loaves and fishes as told in the Gospels*.  In both cases after the multiplication had occurred and everyone had eaten their fill, Jesus had the leftovers gathered up and collected.  Why would the Son of God who had just multiplied food do that?  To show off?  Not really in his nature.  To give a sign to the disciples of God’s ability to provide?  Perhaps.  The answer is in the text/  Jesus said:  “Gather up that which remains so that nothing is lost.”  Jesus did not want to waste the leftovers!  Wow, what a concept.  God, who created everything, does not waste, even leftover bread and fish.

Continue reading Leftovers – The Loaves and Fishes of Life