Thursday, March 29, 2012

Recycle Remix-Springtime Fake Out

I told you I live in Alaska (for now) right? I don't care what time of year you are reading this, there is probably snow on the ground. I live in that wonderful glorious phenomenal part of AK known as the "interior".  Not entirely sure why they decided to call it that. I'm going with the fact that during hibernation, I choose to spend a large amount of time in the "interior" of my home. As in, NOT. OUTSIDE. Where it the average temperature this January was 25 degrees BE.LOW zero. AVERAGE. Please forgive me. I am writing to you from a place of extreme cabin/spring  fever.  Alaska is really amazing, and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy outside in five or ten minute increments or when the weather behaves. This Mississippi 'Possum has truly enjoyed her stay and wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Anyway, in my need to force springtime last year I came up with this nifty FreeCycling project thanks to a post I saw on YouTube and somewhere else. This isn't an original idea, but I love it and I'll show you how I did it.

When all my friends and family are back home bragging about their flip flops and fireflies and zippa-dee-doo-dah-days on the boat and in the garden this time of year, I find myself staring longingly at the frozen tundra wishing for a single blade of grass to peek through. Sigh.hhhhhhhh.  Alas, I have another month (or two). But wait, this is NOT a sad post. Last year, Little 'Possum and I decided if we couldn't plant flowers we would just make some, and this is what we did.

These are made from water and soda bottles from the recycle bin! How cool is that??? We didn't have quite enough so, like good little 'possums we hit up the recycle dumpster in our neighborhood, and found a bag of water bottles right on top! SCORE!

I know...germ-o-phobes...look away now. We did LYSOL the crap out of them, and we wash our hands frequently, so comment away about how many diseases we are going to get. We call it building immunity.

Now to the how-to. You can look at various YouTube videos (search water bottle flowers or something like that), or this is my step by step.

Scissors, tape, water bottle...take off cap, peel off label.

Cut the bottle about half way down. Take the bottom off. 
Not too short. This determines the length of your petals.
Because Little 'Possum is so freakin' smart, both of these will be a flower.

The towel and the drawing are totally unnecessary, but I didn't know how else to make this show up on camera. The lines are where you will cut petals. If you draw those lines, they will show through your paint, so don't do it. Free hand cut it. It's just a water bottle. Be brave. You aren't going to cut any parts off the bottle. All the plastic stays on. just cut down to that line. 
The relief, or parts that stay between what you cut are petals, too. ; ) 
Now that you have cut the petals, you can bend and crease them. I bent the big petals down and left the reliefs up. Simply pinch the plastic with your fingers and it will usually make a crease and stay. Play with it. Find your happy place. Happy little petals...Bob Ross moment. "Possum's Joy of Garbage"
Side view of folded petals. Looks like some kind of wonky bug legged thing to me. 
It will look awesome when you paint it. 

I told Little 'Possum the bottom of the bottle was just too much to waste back into the recycle bin and she came up with this AWESOME TULIP! Here's how. 

Cut many tiny straight strips all the way around the bottom. You are holding the closed part. Think jellyfish.
Now just use your tape to secure them in a cone shape. We use Scotch Magic tape because it is not glossy and the spray paint will stick to it a little better than super shiny packing tape. We think. 

The next thing you need to do is stem your flowers. I would say do this in a well ventilated area, but really what I mean is GO OUTSIDE. Do NOT do this in your home. We used a soldering iron and made two holes in the part of the bottle where the cap screws on. This is where the floral wire stem is attached. Go through the holes then around the threads. I had to wrap mine around a few times to achieve stability, and I used a 14 or 16 gauge stiff wire. On the tulips, we simply pierced two holes in the bottom and threaded the wire through. Be bold. Experiment with what you have and make it work. That is the whole point of garbage art and it is one of the reasons I will not show you how to do every little nit pickin' thing. ; )
Now have fun and PAINT AWAY!  
 I really do keep this at my house.  It is a staple like flour or milk. 
Remember, you can paint the inside and outside of your can layer colors...
 groovy baby, and note the placement of the stem wire,
through the melted holes, then wrapped at the bottom
and you don't have to stick with water bottles...look at our Jell-O cups. 
They are crammed in the bottom of a bottle for a daffodil.
Oh, and look at that cute button to hold our stem in place.
tiger lily?
LP's Amazing Tulips, I wondered if the tape would stay put, 
but these have been on our porch for well over a year now!

Don't ever be afraid to try something in crafting. If you are afraid to try it, you will never know if it worked or not. So what if it fails, you try again and make it better. We didn't get the stems right the first time, we put several miscut "flowers" back in the recycle bin. It's okay. Keep trying until you get it right. 
Be brave and adapt. Be a 'Possum. You know they've been around like 70 million years???
See, I told you this wasn't a sad post. : )

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recycle Remix- Tiny Dresser

I love going to garage sales. I love thrift stores. I love to find great garbage on the side of the road. I am, after all, a 'Possum. I don't know if furry Opossums are the adventurous kind, or if they just pilfer through trash for mere survival. I like to think it's a little of both, since I see so many on the road. There must be adventure on the other side of the road. I've never seen an Opossum at a garage sale, but that is probably because they do not have money. Did I mention how much I love garage sales? I can spend hours looking at other people's junk! It drives my husband crazy. It drives lots of people crazy, but I love hunting. Like people, I see potential in nearly everything. I think all people have potential, and I think most stuff does, too. I know I'm having a borderline hoarder conversation now. I do watch that show sometimes.  Trust me, I don't want to keep all the stuff because I'm hurt. I just want to make it all beautiful and send it on its way to some happier place.  I don't think hoarding is the problem. Co-dependency maybe. I do like to rescue.

Anyway, here in Alaska you can only get a couple good months of garage saling in each year. The rest of the year (9 months of winter) it is just too darn cold. 40 below is not conducive to deal making. Trust me on that one. Now to the sad part of my story. I haven't been to a garage sale in almost two years. Feel badly for me, people. This is serious. Luckily for me though, I did get a couple of things last time I got to go. I stored them in the garage through my husband's last deployment. When he got home, (and wanted to rebuild a truck) we both quickly realized some stuff had to go. I told you this was a sad story. Oh but I am a crafty girl, so I did some clever rearranging and I found some places to stash some stuff a little bit longer. Yay me! Now, I'm gonna show you why I kept it, even though Mr. 'Possum kept saying it was broken garbage. Here's a fabulous furniture recycle remix!  You won't be able to copy it exactly, but I hope you can start to see potential in the stuff you already have and apply some of these techniques to your own re-do's.

1. Start with WOOD or metal when you are refurbishing furniture items. You can sand and repaint or refinish multiple times. When you are using pressboard or particle board furniture, you just aren't going to get the durability your time and effort deserve, so look for REAL wood at sales.  

These are the little wooden boxes I started this project with. You can see they are faded, rustic, dented, damaged...whatever.  They are WOODEN and the set was $5.00 Also pictured are some decorative finials I keep on hand most of the time for projects. They cost about $2.00 per pair at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.

The idea for these boxes finally came to me. I bought them because I know I love tiny dressers with lots of drawers. We have a few around the house stuffed with all kinds of treasures, like too many rubber ducks, a rock and mineral collection, playing cards, and strange, tiny things that make us happy. Let's do this.

2. PILOT HOLES - you need them. This "dresser" is going to need feet...Adorable 'possum feet.

Enter the finials. The ones I have already have (that I am not hoarding) have screw type ends on them, I just have to put them on the bottom box. These boxes are a very thin wood, so I measured where the wood was and drilled pilot holes for my finial screws. If I just went straight into the wood it would split. It still happens, but this lessens the chance. I used a drill bit that was quite a bit smaller than my actual screws. If you use the same size, you run the chance of "missing" and drilling out the side of the box. Hold your drill very straight, so you don't miss.

3. SANDING-Normally I would tell you to sand a project, but this paint was soaking up every bit of moisture I put on it while I was trying to clean it. That means it is porous and it's also going to soak up my paint when I spray it on. I skipped this step.  It's a judgement call.
Oh now you see what I'm doing here.

4. Attaching the pieces. GLUE AND SCREWS. I prefer to screw when I can. (just leave that one alone)
It's more stable and you can take it apart on your next recycle if you choose to do one. In this case, the wood I was working with was so thin it required both glue and screws because there was literally nowhere to screw from top to bottom without interfering with the drawers sliding in and out. My glue of choice: GORILLA GLUE!

 This doesn't look like much glue, but GG expands and looks sort of foamy and crusty. Stay away from the edges of your project, and you won't have such a mess to clean up later. We've repaired many things at the 'Possum house with GG, and keeping a wet wiping cloth handy and checking the piece periodically ensures you can wipe away excess glue as it starts to peek out. It's not pretty and its hard as the dickens to clean off when it's dry.

5. CLAMPING is very important. The glued pieces want to slide. It's just the nature of the beast. I clamped and placed heavy objects to keep my pieces in place.

 Next I added those screws I promised you. We keepers of junk have a ready supply of odd pieces. In this puzzler, I found an auto radio shim plate. That's what I was told it was. It looked like a perfectly good whatchamahoodler to me and it fit, so that's what it is.

The whatchamahoodler is spanning the pieces and screwing them together to provide stability. Note the makeshift washers. Don't forget your PILOT HOLES! (Yes, my whatchamahoodler is rusty. RUSTOLEUM spray paint allows me to mostly ignore that. shhhhh)

6. CAULK can be used to fill holes and that inevitable wood split. These got all cracked up because they are in Alaska and during that 9 months of winter, that is what happens when you have cabin fever, plus there is no humidity. Dry wood splits. Use a sandable, paintable caulk for your project. I use my fingers to work it into the cracks. Wipe away the extra caulk before it dries. Caulking the seams will make your project look much more cohesive and craftsmanly.
See the white caulk filling the little nooks and crannies?

7. PATIENCE is key. This is the hardest part. YOU MUST WAIT FOR GLUE AND CAULK TO DRY. It's even more boring than waiting for water to boil, but if you don't wait it out and you rush the project, you are going to have to do it twice because you are going to have to undo the wrongness and re-right it. 

8. PAINTING is the most fun. I had to sleep on this one while I was waiting for the caulk to dry. But first thing the next morning I got to spray paint it!  For this finish there are two coats of paint. The first coat was a satin finish aqua blue. After that coat is dry, the top coat of satin finish white was added. The edges were sanded to make it look shabby. Now the blue and some of the bare wood show through.
You can see the drawers aren't painted with white. They are on the edges, but the inside was left blue for a nice contrast when they are opened. The fronts were not double painted for a different reason. Those are going to be decoupaged with patterned paper and MODPODGE glue. 

9. DETAILS are what make your new piece unique. This little dresser features decoupaged patterned papers which all came out of a coordinated(this means they all go together and you don't have to think about making them match) scrapbook block. It also has updated knobs made from wire and glass beads. The drawer edges were also sanded.

And here's the finished piece.

And now I have a new place to hide things. :)  This one sits on my dresser with vitamins and ponytail holders and the little bits that clutter that space. 

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something useful or at least a little bit inspiring. I have many more projects to upload, so stick around. Or go garage saling and come back with lots of junk. You can make it pretty.