Tag Archives: recycled

Making & Baking Our Way into Fall | Pics & Links

3 Sep

Oh hi! Here’s what we’ve been up to (a meaty post with pictures & links!)…

Savoring summer, time with Kate’s dad & the best lobstah roll ever (PJ’s Family Restaurant in Wellfleet).

Making pickles! Refrigerator style using this recipe and farm fresh pickling cukes from a farm near Jess’s home town. We added cloves of garlic & black whole peppercorns to each jar. We also made a spicy batch for our neighbor by tossing in a sliced jalapeno from our container garden (YAY!). We’ve been eating them on EVERYTHING (pictured below on turkey sandwiches).

Salivating over a new issue of Bon Appetit and celebrating awesome neighbors with this delightful coffee cake. Toss blueberries in panko breadcrumbs? SURE!

Here’s what the blueberry coffee cake looked like sliced (just before it got hand delivered to our favorite neighbors). This Instagram filter makes it look straight out of my mom’s 1970 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.

Catching up on crafty gifts, part I! Long overdue wedding card/art piece for friends Emily & Chris. Those are heart shaped bits I cut out of their save-the-date & invitations. I love sewing paper.

Catching up on crafty gifts, part II! Finally getting around to finishing this advent calendar project for 2 very special little boys (yes, that’s 48 little fabric bags). Promised last year that I’d make these & we’d fill them with goodies each year…literally the gift that keeps on giving! The first time I stumbled across this project on Lansdowne Life, I obsessed over the adorable vintage looking fabric…to die for, right?!? Can’t wait to fill the bags with goodies & send them off. Oh & those pinking shears were an amazing vintage find at a little consignment shop on the Cape. 

Officially launching Opal & Ollie on Etsy. YAY! A selection of my etched glass mason jars are also available at Magpie in Davis Square & On Centre in Jamaica Plain.

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Another Decor DIY | Old is the New New

23 May
We recently got a secret framing tip while visiting our friends at The Little House Studios and since it’s been so long since my last blog post, I feel like I should spill the beans & share it with you.
 
The tip?
Hit up vintage shops & antique & flea markets for old frames for new artwork or photos. I know, it sounds obvious, but I think it’s really easy to overlook old finds for new Ikea frames, simply because one stop shopping is a little more convenient.
 
The search is on...
So via our Little House Studios friends, we heard especially great things about the Cambridge Antique Market. In all honesty, I’ve had great luck finding frames at thrift stores and as I mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with Ikea, but we bought an incredible & intriguingly creepy print by Alethea Roy. And well, it was screaming for something different. I knew I wanted something old. Jess suggested something round or oval (inspired by a vintage mirror that was my gran’s that’s hanging in our office). So off I went to the Cambridge Antique Market with the print & measuring tape in hand. (If you can’t/don’t want to bring the artwork, you could just take measurements & jot them down or trace the shape of your artwork with a piece of tracing, parchment or tissue paper & bring it along instead.)

If you’ve never been to the Cambridge Antique Market, it’s a little overwhelming. I felt like Goldilocks. There were plenty of framed pictures & artwork & some frames without but none were quite right (too $$$, wrong shape, wrong size, missing parts, etc.). I contemplated  skipping the 5th (and final) floor but headed up there anyway. I’m oh-so-glad I didn’t give up hope because I found the perfect frame — the right size, the right price and antique convex glass to boot! It definitely needed some love — the metal branches on the top & bottom of the frame were broken off — but I’m always up for a challenge. Oh, and I paid in cash & received $6 off the asking price, making it a total steal at $26. Woo hoo!

Another tip: Look beyond what’s inside the frame. There’s a lot of bad art & crazy old family photos out there — just hanging out in perfectly good frames!
 
So you’ve got the frame, now what?
When I got home, I took out my wire cutters (part of my jewelry tool arsenal….I secretly hoped I didn’t need something more heavy duty), glass cleaner & paper towels, a dust cloth & newspaper. I disassembled & cleaned the frame & glass and cut & removed the rusty picture wire.  I removed the old Victorian photograph & contemplated saving it but it was warped & had some water damage so I set it aside for possible donation (another man’s trash is…).
 
Refurbishing 
I contemplated what to do about the broken branches & decided to cut them off. I was able to use the wire cutters that I had — the metal was super soft & silvery under the gold. It kinda made me worry/wonder if the branches were made of lead (?). That said, I trimmed them down. I was originally planning on filing them to smooth any sharp snags & make it appear as if they were never on the frame in the first place, but, for safety’s sake, I decided to forego the filing. Because the branches were a different material than the rest of the frame, they were painted in gold (possibly gold leaf?) so after trimming them I wondered what to do about the silver metal shining through.
 
I grabbed a gold Sharpie (one of the oil-based paint variety) from my stash, some black shoe polish & a soft cloth. I dabbed the silver patches with the gold Sharpie, let it dry & then put a little of the shoe polish on the cloth & buffed the freshly coated gold paint. I had no idea if it would actually work, but it did! It perfectly added a little age/patina to the spots I’d touched up & blended them with the rest of the frame. I thought the bumps would drive me nuts but I really don’t mind them. They add “character”.
 
New meets old
With the frame clean & ready, I carefully measured & trimmed the edges of the artwork to fit in the frame. Then I reassembled all of the parts & gave the front of the glass one more wipe down to get rid of pesky fingerprints. And…voila!
 
Share your projects with us!
How have you transformed something old into something new?

Making Inspiration | Scrap Leather DIY

23 Apr

A (totally awesome) friend gave me a partial roll of thick leather when she was “cleaning house” in preparation for a move. It’s still nice & soft & it’s been sitting in the corner of our studio/office, for months, torturing me — visions of potential leather projects dancing in my head.

But what do I really know about working with leather? It’s a little intimidating but after sleuthing the interwebs it doesn’t seem so scary (yay!). Here’s what I came up with for potential projects. I’m most excited about the first three but they are all pretty amazing!

1. leather party decor (perfect everyday decor too!)

2. pretty little leather bow (oh the possibilities!)

3. more decor…leather bowl (for holding a head of garlic in the kitchen or top-of-dresser-items like jewelry & change?!)

4. another painted bracelet treat 
(perfect for adding interest to any everyday outfit!)

5. sweet leather flowers here & here (thanks fleurfatale & Martha!)

I don’t know about you…but I can’t wait to start making!

Recycle…Repurpose…Repeat | Yoga Mat Revival

19 Apr

Earth Day is this weekend so recycling, etc. has really been on my mind recently. And if you haven’t figured it out already, Jess & I are also thrifty/resourceful by nature.

We got a new little rug for in front of the kitchen sink and I was sick of it slipping on the tile floor. I’ve bought non-slip-under-the-rug things from bargain stores but they don’t work that well so I’ve decided to stop wasting money on them — it all adds up! I’m too thrifty to invest in a more expensive option until we have our own house. I figured there had to be an alternative that would work well & possibly offer a little more cushion…then…bing! Idea! Light bulb above head & everything. I remembered seeing my old yoga mat tucked away in the corner of our closet when I was hunting for  my Spring/Summer clothes.

I laid the yoga mat out on the floor; measured a length & width about 1/4″-1/2″ smaller than the rug I wanted to put it under; marked it with a Sharpie marker & then cut it with sharp scissors. It’s been working perfectly & it adds a nice bit of cushion, too (which is great since we’re at the sink every night washing dishes…I can’t wait until we own a home…with a dishwasher!).

I put the remaining piece of yoga mat under a throw that’s on top of a trunk at the base of our bed (the dogs & cat like to use it as a step up to the bed & it’s an antique). It’s holding the throw in place nicely & we no longer have to forever fuss with it to keep it in check. Besides, now the boys have a little bit more of a cushion for jumping, too.

I’m not the only one who has thought of reusing/recycling/repurposing old yoga mats. I found this great link while setting out to write this post. So many awesome ideas!

My favorites are 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 18, 26, 29, 31, 49.
#26 made me wonder if yoga mat would make a good baby changing mat? What about cutting a clean yoga mat down to a smaller size & tucking it your diaper bag? It’s so easy to wipe clean & would make changing away from home a little less stressful.

So…how do you plan to celebrate Earth Day? What things have you cleverly recycled or repurposed?

Decor DIY | The Easiest Roman Shades Ever!

15 Apr

I attempted to make roman shades from scratch once (key words = attempted, once). It was several years ago and I enlisted the help of my friend & fabric whisperer, Andrea. In the end the project FAILED (at no fault of Andrea’s), the mechanics were a total pain in the butt to figure out & I was left with a bag full of fabric, a ½ sewn, lined panel & roman shade guts (little plastic rings, dowels & several yards of nylon cord).

Recently, I found that bag while cleaning out my fabric stash and was reminded of how much I love the look of a roman shade. But they are $$$, hence the reason I wanted to make them in the first place.

Thanks to the interwebs, especially Pinterest, I found a much easier option. And…after finding the tutorial, I excitedly remembered:

  1. I had a few yards of fabric in a bright print leftover from wedding stuff (Jess wasn’t in love with it then for wedding crafts but was okay with it being in our office window)
  2. Our office/studio window had some icky mini blinds in it. They were left by the last tenant & we put up curtains over them & then quickly forgot about them. A note about this: I happen to know that our landlord didn’t supply the mini blinds so they were free game to use for this project. (Yay!)
So this project was essentially “free” to make. Well, truthfully, it was $5.49 because I had to buy fabric glue.

Supplies

Fabric (a mid-weight cotton worked for me but the other tutorials I’ve seen use burlap or heavier cotton canvas)

Mini blinds in a size to fit your window (use old ones & upcycle them or buy cheap ones at your nearest home supply store)

Fabric glue (I used “Liquid Stitch”)

Measuring tape

Heat N’ Bond iron-on hem tape

Fabric shears or super sharp scissors

Double sided craft tape

Iron

Optional supplies:
Pinking shears

Binder clips
Quilting ruler
Thread in a matching color (only if you plan to machine stitch your seams)
Hot glue gun (I didn’t use this but many of the tutorials did)

Instructions

I mostly used the instructions here  & referenced an older tutorial for steps I wasn’t sure about.

Here are a few notes/things I did differently:

:: Prepping the blinds: This was much easier than I thought. I can’t emphasize this next tip enough: BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THE LIFT CORD. You think it’s super obvious BUT it’s very easy to get into measuring & cutting & gluing & before you know it, you’re wondering why your scissors are having such a hard time cutting the fabric…& then you realize the lift cord was hiding under the fabric & you almost cut it & ruined the whole project. GAH! So….BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THE LIFT CORD.

:: Glue: I had all of the supplies required with the exception of the fabric glue. I bought it at a local sewing store & the brand I used was called “Liquid Stitch”. I used it to adhere the fabric to everything – the mini blind slats, the thicker mechanical bar at the top and the thick bottom slat. So far, it’s holding up just fine. I didn’t use hot glue at all.

:: Fabric: I used a medium weight cotton print. It’s the main reason I didn’t use hot glue – because I feel like it would be less forgiving than a heavy weight canvas or burlap & I didn’t want to see lumps & bumps on the finished shade.

:: Seams & “pattern”:

  • I left a 2.5” border around all of the edges.  Meaning, I measured & cut my piece of fabric 2.5″ bigger, on all sides, than what I wanted my finished shade to be. For the left and right sides, I folded the fabric in 2.5 ” & pressed it with an iron. I folded the flap of fabric under itself, sandwiched the Heat N’ Bond between the layers of fabric & pressed it, leaving me with a double thick seam that measured 1.25″. I did this to give a little more stability to the shade on the sides.
  • I left the top & bottom edges raw so I could play around/easily cut off any excess fabric
  • My pleats (where I glued the slats) are spaced 7.5” apart because that seemed to work the best with the length of my window
  • I used the recommended Heat N’ Bond (no sewing necessary!) for the hem but also used a sewing machine to reinforce the hem on each side to give it nice finished & clean look

:: Finishing:

  • I used binder clips (yes, your standard office supply binder clips) to temporarily hold the fabric in place as the glue was drying on the top mechanical bar & the thick bottom slat. This was a really helpful step.
  • Once the glue on the top mechanical bar & bottom slat was dry, I used pinking shears to trim the excess fabric (to keep the raw edge of the fabric from fraying). As you are doing this, BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THE LIFT CORD!!!  I was extra careful not to cut or glue the lift cord in all of the earlier steps & then nearly cut one of them during this last finishing step. OMG! Crisis averted though…phew!
  • Once the finished shade was in place, I put a little piece of strong double-sided craft tape on both sliding pieces of the bracket that holds the top of the shade in place & pressed the top corners of the fabric down (as the instructions in the tutorials state, you have to keep the corners unglued in order to be able to install the shade).

And….voila!…a sexy looking roman shade for less!

So sexy in fact, we thought the trim & windowsill looked too drab after taking down the original curtains. So…I lightly sanded away any ickies, taped it off with painter’s tape & painted it a nice bright white. Even after painting, this project still took just 2 evenings to complete.

Have you ever had a project unknowingly turn into more projects? Let us know how things turned out.

Happy making!

Weekend Project | Sewing Table Redux

2 Apr

I’ve been reorganizing our shared office/studio for the past few months. Things are coming along — we installed a pegboard using this post and hung a wall o’ artwork — but my new-to-me (salvaged from behind our building!) sewing table still needed a makeover…big time.

I had an amazing piece of fabric (designed by the author of one of my favorite blogs) I’d stashed away just waiting for the PERFECT project. Yay!

 Lowly old table + cute fabric + vinyl + a little elbow grease + a couple of hours = Awesome sewing table!

Supplies

Table that needs a makeover

Sharp scissors and/or sewing shears

Double-sided tape

Fabric in a fun print (You’ll need enough fabric so that it will lay flat on your table & fall over the edge a few inches — I left ~ 4 inches on each side)

Clear vinyl (Same size as the fabric, see above note —  available at any sewing/fabric store – the stuff I used was fairly heavy weight)

Drop cloth or old flat sheet

Heavy duty staple gun & staples

Lint roller 

Steps

1. Prep: Make sure your table is nice & clean – the underside too (you’ll be all up under there!). Iron your fabric. If your vinyl has any creases or wrinkles in it, now would be a good time to lay it out on a clean flat surface in a warm room.

2. Drape: Drape the fabric (right side up) over the tabletop allowing it to hang over the edges.

3. Trim: Using sharp scissors or sewing shears, trim the edges of the fabric so that only about 3-4 inches hang over the edge.

4. Anchor: Cut a piece of double-sided tape & peel the paper off one side. Lift a section of fabric & stick the piece of double-sided tape to the edge of the table. Remove the other piece of paper & press the fabric down, holding it for a few seconds to make sure it sticks. The goal here is simply to keep the fabric temporarily positioned in order for you to turn the table onto the floor.  You can skip this step if you’re not worried about the print/pattern lining up on the finished piece. 

5. Flip: Lay your drop cloth/sheet down on the floor & flip the table, top side down, on the cloth. Do this carefully so your fabric doesn’t come un-taped or shift as you flip.

6. Staple: Starting with one of the longer edges of the table (about an inch from the corner), gently but firmly pull the fabric over the edge of the table & staple it down with the staple gun about 1-1.5 inches from the table edge. You want to pull the fabric tight but not too tight or you’ll distort the print. Continue stapling along the edge, stopping about an inch before the corner. Repeat this step for the opposite edge & then the 2 other sides.

7. Corner up: Pull the fabric up at a 90 degree angle and pull firmly inward. 

If the corner is rounded (like mine), it will naturally make a little pleat of sorts when you pull up & in, it’s okay, just roll with it but feel free to adjust how it looks before you staple it down. Staple it a few times to anchor it securely to the table.

If your corner is sharp, pull one edge in towards the center of the table & staple it down. Tuck & fold the fabric however you need to get a nice crisp corner before stapling the heck out of it.

8. Trim: Using your fabric shears/scissors, trim the edge of the fabric to even it out a bit & get rid of any floppy edges. I started using a straight edge & rotary cutter on one side & soon realized it was silly so I eyeballed the rest. It will be hidden, after all!

9. Flip: Turn your table right side up & use a lint roller to catch any stray fabric bits or dust (or pet hair) from the fabric. It will drive you nuts if you accidently trap a hair or thread forever in the next step!

10. Repeat steps 2-8 using the vinyl. You can be a little firmer with the vinyl because you want to pull it taut. Especially in step 7 – you’ll want to pull a little tighter on the vinyl so it stretches nicely over the corners.

11. Turn the table right side up & admire your work!

Maker’s notes:  
I was oh-so-excited to get this project started, I forgot to take a “before” picture! Oops! 
I ran out of the right staples as I was about 3/4 of the way into the project so I finished it with staples that weren’t quite meant for the job (they had little arcs at the top for fastening cords to a surface). I smashed the extra metal flat with a hammer. I’d recommend running to your nearest home store for a refill instead of making due as I did.

Thrifty Craft | Calendar Envelopes

21 Mar


It’s my natural instinct as an artist to hoard *um, I mean be SUPER resourceful about* materials that inspire me to make them over & use them again. Here’s a fun project that I came up with last year as a way to use our 2010 calendar (I couldn’t bear to recycle all of those cute Boston Terrier PUPPIES!). We are always in need of envelopes for our dog walker’s bi-weekly payment, etc. & we like to keep corresponding fun. These also make a cute gift paired with some pretty colored blank cards & tied up with some baker’s twine.

Materials

1 old calendar (the more interesting, the better!)
1 envelope (small-medium) 
pair of scissors
ball point pen or pencil (for tracing template) 
straight edge (I prefer a cork backed metal ruler)
bone folder or popsicle stick
magazine or self healing cutting mat (to protect your work surface)
glue stick

Steps

1.Disassemble the calendar & cut the calendar pages in half. Set the cover of the calendar aside.

2. Carefully slide your finger under the glued edges of the envelope & pull it apart, smoothing it flat. (If you’re worried about ripping it, steam it open over a kettle or pot of boiling water. The envelope I used — a stray that I found in the bottom of our filing cabinet — came apart just fine without any extra effort.)

3. Take the cover of the calendar (or any other sturdy piece of cardboard or card stock you have lying around), trace the envelope onto it using the ball point pen/pencil & cut it out. This is your “template”!

4. Trace your template onto the calendar pages. I traced the side of the calendar page with the image on it because I wanted to be very intentional about how the image would appear on the finished envelope but you could trace the template on the other side if you’re worried about the pen marks showing up on the finished envelope. Speaking of…I used a Sharpie so it would show up in pictures for this tutorial but I’d recommend using something with a finer tip.

5. Cut out your calendar page envelopes.

6. Using your bone folder (or tip of a popsicle stick) & straight edge, create a crease along each side of the envelope. (Just match up the corners with your straight edge & slide the bone folder along the edge — using the point to create a little invisible line in the paper.)

7. Fold each flap of each envelope on the creases.

8. Place a folded envelope on top of a piece of scrap paper  & glue the sides of the bottom flap. Fold it in and smooth it down (make sure the bottom corners are really glued down!). Repeat for the remaining envelopes.

 

Maker’s note: As I use each envelope, I seal the top flap with a little piece of tape, a swipe of a glue stick or a decorative label/sticker.
If your calendar images are really bold/dark, you might also want to stick a label on the front of the envelope for the address.

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