chal-lenge: noun a calling to account or into question

Follow along as I challenge the tricks, tips, clever craft and decorating ideas and "simple" recipes that we clip, bookmark, and "pin" for trial at a later date.

Are they really worth the effort? Time (and I) will tell!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yard Sale Finds

We all know and love yard sales. Some of us make a day of it and shop at as many as we can. Often buying things that only end up in our own yard sales a year or so later. Lesson learned I have tried to stay away from yard sales for the past few years. I really have enough stuff. But I have to admit, it’s hard to resist the lure of poking through all the treasures that are left out in the yard for sale. As I pass yard sales I can almost hear those treasures calling me to stop and take them home. It makes me crazy!

This past summer I was driving home from work on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I passed one yard sale after another. I was trying so hard to resist the call. Finally, I just couldn’t stand it any longer and I pulled over at the next sale that came into sight. Darn, I wish I had picked another sale. It was so disappointing to finally stop and find mostly junk. I always try to buy something but I was having a hard time finding anything of interest. The only thing that attracted my attention was a chest. It was looking a little rough but interesting. Someone had tried to strip the paint from it and the feet were missing. It looked like it had been hanging around for a while.

Knowing that I really didn’t have any real use for the chest, I started walking back to my car. The homeowners called after me asking me to please take something home. Wasn’t there anything I might be interested in? I mentioned the chest and before I knew it, the thing was in my car and I was on my way home. By the way, they reduced the price to $10!

So, the chest has been sitting in my basement every since. Added to the treasures from the attic, it has been difficult to navigate through the basement and it was almost impossible to get to my treadmill. As much as I hate the treadmill, it was time to come up with a plan so this chest could move on.

The first step was to come up with some feet. My clever husband quickly crafted some wooden feet that I felt fit the style of the chest. After exploring my furniture finishing options, I decided to go with a natural Tung oil finish for the chest. I felt I would be able to get a warm consistent finish with this product. I had to chuckle to myself as I rubbed the oil over a surface that still had some leftover bits and pieces of paint deep in the crevices. If I had started to strip the chest myself, I would never have let this go. But because it wasn’t my work, I considered it a nice rustic look. Maybe there’s a lesson there. Anyway, I was right about the finish. The oil added just the right luster and the result was rich and warm.

Now I needed to tackle the feet. I dragged out my variety of stains and finishes. I could not get anything to match or even coordinate. I don’t know what kind of wood it is, but the tone is rust colored. Not being able to find the right color, I combed the hardware store looking for a creative solution. I even checked out the second hand stores looking for odds and ends of old feet that might have been left behind. I had an elderly salesman tell me I could take his old feet but I decided against that option. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t come up with anything. Back to the stains I went. It really is hard to look at that little sample and just “see” how it will look. I had to decide so I took a chance and I think I got it right!

With the feet stained and attached to the chest, I am very pleased with the result.
It’s an interesting piece that looks like it has a story to tell. The chest ha
s taken up residence in my daughter’s room for the time being but I’m hoping that it goes home with someone one of these days. Another project finished and crossed off the list. Maybe I’ll be able to find my treadmill again soon.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bottle Cap Coasters

While perusing the craft section at the Waterfront Arts Festival a few years ago, I spotted some coasters that featured beer bottle caps. They just screamed fun and good times. But it was such a hot day that it was all I could do just to keep walking let alone make a decision to buy anything. Of course once I got home and refreshed, I wished I’d taken the time to buy a few. Once a festival closes, you have no idea where to buy the wonderful things you passed by. Fortunately, I live in an area where there are LOTS of festivals and the hunt was on. From festival to festival we went in search of the coasters until I finally found them a year later at Canal Days in Fairport (a really nice festival if you are ever in the area!). Even though the selection was low by the time I found them, I did buy a few.

As I used the coasters I started to really look at how they were made and decided I wanted to try to recreate them. There were only three materials needed: resin, bottle caps and the container to act as the coaster itself. How hard could it be? It was much harder than I thought and the search took me several months. The resin was readily available at Michael’s and with my 40% off coupon was affordable. Because I wanted a real variety of bottle caps, I enlisted the help of my craft beer drinking friends. They really took my request to heart and always checked the bottle caps to make sure they were “cool” before making their purchase. Thanks, guys!

The real trick was finding the container. What was it? I searched on-line for petri dishes and that wasn’t it. I searched for stainless steel jar covers, no luck. I was thinking of giving up when I walked passed a display of jar candles at Big Lots. That was it! The covers on the jars were exactly what I was looking for. Now that I knew what I was looking for, I needed to find the source. Back to the internet I went. It took some doing, but I finally found a source and placed my order.

The process was very simple, mix up the resin, pour a small layer, and arrange the caps, let dry for 24 hours. This step is crucial because the bottle caps have a
tendency to float if the resin is poured to fill the entire form. Once dry, the bottle caps are adhered to the bottom of the coaster and another batch of resin can be poured to cover the bottle caps. I don’t think there is any way to avoid the little bubbles in the resin that are created from stirring. I used my hair dryer on a low temp to bring the bubbles to the surface so they could pop. Dry for another 24hours before using.

Mission accomplished! I think these little guys are adorable and make great party favors for a fun-loving group. I did puzzle over this project for quite some time. Could my brain power have been used to solve a larger problem than making beer coasters? Sure, but what fun would that be!