Tag Archives: up-cycle

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.

Continue reading How To Turn A TV Stand Into Wooden Easels

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?

Old Drawers

 Drawer.  Noun: a sliding, lidless, horizontal compartmIMG_0623ent, as in a piece of furniture, that may be drawn out in order to gain access to it.                                                                                                                                                    Origin & History of “drawer”:  A drawer is literally something that is ‘drawn’ or ‘pulled’ out. The coinage was perhaps based on French tiroir ‘drawer’, which was similarly derived from the verb tirer ‘pull’.  (16th c.)

Old drawers, or more exactly, drawers that are no longer useful as drawers but remain in tact, call to me.  If you have read some of my previous BLOGs you know a bit of my passion (obsession?) in reusing stuff.  I come by this tendency honestly from both my mother and father.  On my dad’s side, they just kept stuff because “I might need it someday”.  And in some cases that was true.  Usually it just meant that things stacked up.  On my Mom’s side, the farmers, it was somewhat the same, but the German genes forced things into something useful.  Not always in a pretty way but used none-the-less.  Nothing and no one sits idle in a German household for long!

In both cases these things represented an asset; money and time that did not have to be spent.  It represented frugality and, yes, in some cases a fear of not having enough since these were families whose psyche were formed by the years of the Great Depression.  I did not know that kind of lack.  Not even close.  Cash was not abundant, but we had nice things.  Mom knew how to re-purpose, up-cycle and re-cycle before it was a political statement.  However, she did not abide clutter and enjoyed making things look pretty. Things in our home were neat and tidy.

Even the Drawers!

So when I see and old drawer my DNA takes over, times two.  It takes some skill to build a good drawer.  I am almost in awe of the old kitchen cabinet drawers from 70+ years ago, that are still solid and sturdy when the cabinets or cupboards that once housed them are long gone.  They are not elegant, built primarily for function:  to put things in.  So when I come across an old drawer it goes into my project room.

 Last winter I needed a foot rest under my desk, so i grabbed an old drawer, turned it upside down and placed it under my feet.  Functional.  Dad would have left it at that.  But my mother’s DNA kicked in recently and here is what haDrawerppened:
The drawer was:
  • Lightly sanded and primed.  There were stains that my favorite stain hider, KILZ, took care of.
  • painted on the outside with a semi-gloss version of the wall color of the room it will reside in.
  • then painted inside in a rust color from a bit of a paint sample I had on hand.
  • given a “new” hdrawertandle from my stash of cool vintage hard ware (let me know if you are interested, I have lots)
  • put on pretty red casters that I acquired from an estate sale for a few dollars.
  • topped with a padded lid so I can rest my feet in comfort while gaining some storage.
 drawers
Of course the lid moves this from the old drawer category into the wooden box on wheels category.  I guess this old drawer has been up-cycled.
 More Old Drawers
 Here are a few other things that old drawers have become in the Maison Steinbuchel shop.
Drawers
Stars in the Rockies
drawers
Starry Night – Drawer front turned coat hangar
drawers
Skyline Wall Art
 Some have gone to new homes via ETSY.  I use a few in my own home.
drawers
Under Bed Storage
My Old Drawers Pintrest Board is where I collect ideas from others as well as post projects I have done.  The cost of these is primarily in my time.  With the exception of paint, brushes and sandpaper, the materials are from found objects.
ETSY and Pintrest along with trips to shops where others are exercising their up-cycling, re-purposing talents always spark fresh ideas.
This reusing stuff gene is a stone in my bridge handed down via DNA.  However, to be viable, it had to be recognized, nurtured and even adapted.  I do not need to do this in order to save cash (although that is a nice benefit), nor even to save time.  I could just toss these things out or donate them (which I do this in some cases), and tap an app on my iPhone to order something new (which I also do in some cases), but there is a place in me that is not be satisfied with that.
There are stones in your bridge waiting to be discovered, unearthed and placed in a more prominent place along your journey.  A gift of music?  painting?  Writing?  Perhaps a skill that has laid dormant or was set aside.  Some area of interest that cries in you for nurture and expression.  Something that satisfies your soul.  Give yourself permission to recognize what it is and say it out loud.  Today.
In the comments below, in one word, describe that latent something within you that you want to pursue.