Upcycling a 1970s Mediterranean Dresser

I love watching videos and reading up about furniture renovations, but I’ve always been too chicken to try to do it myself. Then one day on my way to work, I saw it. It looked like a large, ornate buffet on the side of the road. I was drawn in by the unusual decorative cabinet doors on either side of the piece. I started imagining how great it could look with some paint and new hardware. It just so happens I was looking for a table long enough to fit my TV plus provide storage.

My sad TV stand.

We bought a new TV about two years ago. Our old TV stand was not wide enough to hold it, so the legs of the TV hung over the edge. To solve the problem, I simply placed a piece of leftover plywood shelving over the top of the TV stand. But it was not an ideal or attractive solution. A new TV stand could cost over $500, but if I could fix up this buffet, I knew it could be the perfect TV stand to replace the ramshackle one I was using.

After convincing my husband to take a drive with me to look at the piece, he immediately nixed the idea. I went home emptyhanded that night, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew I could do something with it. Finally, after much nagging, I convinced him to return the next night and after much struggle (it weighs a ton) we stuffed it into the back of our hatchback and took it home. It deposited quite a bit of pulverized particle board all over the car, but it was now mine.

Upon its arrival in my garage, I poured over blogs and videos to learn all I could about rehabbing old particle board furniture. Through my research of 1970s Mediterranean furniture, I also discovered that the piece was actually most likely a dresser, not a buffet.

Yuck!

I was relieved to find out that laminate particle board could be painted and repaired. But the first order of business was cleaning. The piece was filthy, and I soon discovered it smelled very strongly of cigarette smoke. The smell was so bad, I dubbed it The Cigar Box. Even the fact that it had been sitting outside for a week did little to get rid of the stench. Immediately, I opened all the drawers to help air them out. But even after several cleanings, I could still smell smoke, so I went to the grocery store and bought baking soda. Pouring it over every crevice, I waited, hoping it would take away most of the lingering smell. After vacuuming up the baking soda, I could still smell smoke, so I decided to paint every inch of the pieces with primer. After a couple coats, the smell thankfully started to disappear.

A close up of a cabinet door.

I was surprised the funky cabinet doors on either side were not made out of wood but resin. After decades of use, the resin was cracked and damaged in some spots. Using clamps, I gently applied pressure to the doors to close in the cracks. Then I used Gorilla Glue to seal them shut. The glue held the resin together and made it stronger, preventing any more damage. Once the glue dried, I sanded it smooth then applied plastic wood to repair the rest of the damage. After everything was dry, I sanded again and covered the doors with two coats of gripper primer.

1 coat of primer.
The cabinet door after two coats of primer.

The drawers were my next obstacle. There was quite a bit of damaged laminate. Using a razor blade, I scored, then cut off all the curling laminate around the edges. Next I removed any bulging, water-damaged particle board. Then I painted a few thin layers of Gripper primer, sanding between coats.

Two coats of primer.

The top of the piece also had a lot of water damage and bubbling laminate. Using the razor, I scored around each bubble and then dug out the swelled particle board. After that I covered the divots with Plastic Wood.

I used several buckets of Plastic Wood to fill in the dips and smooth out the top.

The bottom of the dresser was rotted from sitting out in the elements for so long, so I had to take it off. It was much easier than I was anticipating. It literally fell off and crumbled in my hands with just the slightest bit of help. But this left me with another problem: what to use in its place. Luckily, a trip to the home improvement store’s lumber area solved this problem. To my surprise, the store actually had a piece of wood that fit the bottom quite nicely. I also picked up some small table legs while I was there.

Tip: Check the home improvement store’s website before making the drive. Most stores keep an inventory list online along with the aisle and bin where the item is located. This saves a ton of time in searching the aisles for what you’re looking for. It will also tell you if an item is in stock.

With a level and a small saw, I sawed the bottom as evenly as I could.

I sawed about seven inches off the bottom and painted the entire piece with primer to rid it of the smoke smell.

Next, I placed the dresser on top of the wood I bought and traced around the piece. I had to cut the excess from the front and sides to allow the cabinet doors and the bottom drawer to close. The jigsaw made quick work of the cuts.

Using a pencil, I traced the indents of the piece then cut it with a jigsaw.
This is what it looked like after I cut and painted the wood.

Placing the piece upside down, I glued the plywood to the bottom using wood glue. Then I found several heavy boxes in my garage and sat them on top of the wood until it was dry.

A view from the side and the 1/4 inch round trim.

Despite my best efforts, the bottom looked a little ragged in spots. To fix this, I cut some 1/4 inch round trim to hide the jagged edges of my cuts. Then I glued the pieces in place. To make it look more polished, I sealed the edges of the trim with paintable caulk and nailed the trim into place with some finishing nails.

For the paint, I wanted to go with a greige color. I found the perfect color with Behr Perfectly Taupe in a satin finish. At times the paint looks gray, and others it takes on a more beige tone.

After two coats of paint.

To lift up the piece I found some cute bun table legs. Since the piece is very heavy, I went with eight legs to help distribute the weight.

The cabinet door hinges needed a quick cleaning with a wire brush and a mixture of warm water, vinegar and dish soap. Once they were dry, I sprayed them with a metal primer, then painted them with the same taupe paint to blend in with the rest of piece.

After cleaning with wire brush.
Metal primer applied.

For the fixtures, I wanted to add some sparkle to the funky doors. The existing pulls were not going to cut it. Instead, I used a sparkly solitaire knob for each cabinet door and chrome handles for the drawers. I also found pretty shelf paper online to line the inside of the drawers.

Original hardware.

This piece was definitely a ton of work, but I really love how it turned out. The piece fits perfectly against my wall, and holds not only my TV, but has so much storage potential. I’m glad I was able to save this dresser from the garbage. It’s not only a unique piece of furniture, but an elegant addition to my family room. Who knew such an ugly, smelly old piece could find new life in my family room? I hope this inspires you to look differently at the old furniture on the side of the road. It could become a treasured piece of furniture in your home.

This looks so much better than before!
New shelf paper.
The cabinet doors are even fancier now with a Diamond touch.

Knitted Diamond Table Runner

For the past year I’ve been working on an upcycled TV stand that I hope to show off next month. Now that I’m nearly finished, I wanted to buy a table runner to go underneath the TV to help protect the top finish of the piece. After searching online, I found a beautiful diamond macrame table runner. But, at over $150, it was definitely out of my budget. So, I decided to get out my knitting needles and come up with something far less expensive.

After perusing a knitting book, I decided on the Diamond Seed pattern for my runner. The Diamond Seed creates a simple diamond pattern with just knit and purl stitches. To ensure the piece stayed flat, I added a band of garter stitches on the ends and sides of the runner.

Next, I headed to the craft store to find yarn. Using the inspiration of the macrame table runner I found online, I wanted to use cotton yarn. I not only wanted the texture, but I wanted something that could be easily cleaned.

To make the runner look more polished, I added a selvedge edge. A selvedge edge gives the ends of a knitted piece a braided look. Although it may sound complicated, it’s actually quite simple to do. A typical garter stitch border can look kind of bumpy, and by adding a selvedge edge, it gives knitted pieces a more elegant look. To create a selvedge edge, all you have to do is slip the first stitch purl-wise from your needle with the yarn in the front. Then move the yarn to the back and knit as usual. Here’s a video to illustrate:

Selvedge edge

Knitted Diamond Table Runner Pattern:

Supplies: pair of size 8 knitting needles and one cone of Sugar’n Cream cotton yarn in white.

  • Cast on 50 stitches. Then work in garter stitch (knit every stitch) for the first 10 rows. Then begin pattern as follows:
  • Row 1: Knit five stitches to create border, then place stitch marker to mark place. Then P1, k7*. Repeat from * across row until the last five stitches. Place a stitch holder and knit last five stitches.
  • Row 2: k5 for border. Then k1, p5, k1, p1*. Repeat from * across row until you reach stitch holder, then knit last 5 stitches for border.
  • Row 3: k5 for border. Then k2, p1, k3, p1, k1*. Repeat from * across row until you reach stitch holder, then knit last 5 stitches for border.
  • Row 4: k5 for border. Then p2, k1, p1, k1, p3*. Repeat from * across row until you reach stitch holder, then knit last 5 stitches for border.
  • Row 5: k5 for border. Then k4, p1, k3*. Repeat from * across row until you reach stitch holder, then knit last 5 stitches for border.
  • Row 6: k5 for border: Then p2, k1, p1, k1, p3*. Repeat from * across row until you reach stitch holder, then knit last 5 stitches for border.
  • Row 7: k5 for border: Then k2, p1, k3, p1, k1*. Repeat from * across row until you reach stitch holder, then knit last 5 stitches for border.
  • Row 8: k5 for border. Then k1, p5, k1, p1*. Repeat from * across row until you reach stitch holder, then knit last 5 stitches for border.
  • Repeat these 8 rows until table runner reaches desired length. To complete runner, knit 10 more rows of garter stitch to create border. Bind off and use a tapestry needle to hide yarn tails.

I made my runner 50 inches to fit under my TV. The diamond seed pattern is such a simple pattern, but I think it looks very elegant. It really makes my TV stand look even better. Since it was so easy, I’m already thinking up new ideas to create table runners for other areas of my home.

Wooden Easter Sign

For this month, I was planning to unveil a pattern for a TV table runner I’ve been working on. However, after several failed attempts at the pattern, I decided it might need an additional month. Crafting is supposed to be my escape, after all, but sometimes I get frustrated when things don’t come out the way I want.

So much fun!

It was on a trip to Joann Fabrics to look for yarn options for this pattern that I found this month’s craft. I’m a sucker for paintable wooden crafts, and when I saw a display of Easter wooden crafts, I fell in love with an egg-shaped sign. I also fell in love with the 50% discount the store was offering. Desperately needing something to calm my nerves after pulling out yet another row of knitting, I decided to paint my sign so I could hang it in time for the holiday.

Pay no attention to the price tag. The sign was 50% off.

Since I often paint wooden and plaster crafts, I already had most of the paint and Diamond Dotz I needed for this project. Both paint and Diamond Dotz are relatively inexpensive, and can be for several projects, so these types of crafts are very economical.

Tip: if you have the paint, but not the Diamond Dotz, simply paint a small swatch of paint onto a piece of paper and bring it with you to the craft store. This is the best way to find the exact match you’re looking for.

Before I start painting, I always like to plan out the colors I want to use so none of the same colors are close to each other. Taking a pencil, I lightly marked the wood flowers so I can keep track of what color goes where. For the egg, I decided to paint it a light dove gray.

For the hyacinth flowers, I wanted to try to give them a pop of contrasting color.  To do this, I painted them a solid color, then when that dried, I went back and applied small dots of color in a lighter or darker tone of the same color.  This gave the flowers some depth.

To add the “Happy Easter” to the middle of the sign, I bought some vinyl cut-out letters and traced them. Unfortunately, after I laid them out, I did not like the way the “y” in “Happy” looked. For some reason, it was much smaller than the other letters. To solve this, I simply wrote out “Happy” in free-hand and used the vinyl letters for “Easter.” As you can see, it took me a few tries to get it right as evidenced by all the pencil lines I left behind. To hide all the pencil lines I applied another layer of gray paint.

Once the painting was complete, it was time for the Diamond Dotz. I applied a coat of Aleene’s Tacky Glue to the areas I wanted to sparkle and then waited about an hour before getting to work. Turning on a Netflix documentary, I poured out my colors and got to work. There’s something calming about applying Diamond Dotz. I needed this after the frustration of my failed knitting pattern.

Use a craft stick/coffee stirrer to help spread the glue over the small spaces.

I love the way this egg sign came out.  I love anything that sparkles, and when the sun hits this sign it really dazzles.  If you’re looking for something to take your mind off the stresses of life, I recommend trying a simple wooden sign that can be found at almost any craft store.  They’re almost always on sale, and with a little paint, you can make something you’ll treasure for years to come.  Happy Easter!

Measuring Cup Ornament

This quaint craft is perfect to do with your kids on a cold afternoon. After this flu/cold/COVID season, many of us have a bunch of those little plastic measuring cups that come attached to the top of cough syrup bottles. Instead of trashing them, I’ve come up with a small and easy craft to upcycle these cups into a fun Christmas Bell ornament.

To decorate my little bells, I scoured my craft room. This is a great craft to use up any scraps you’ve accumulated throughout the holiday season. I was lucky to find a small sprig of plastic pine, some tiny bows and glitter. You could also use tiny pinecones, ornament balls or just about anything. Have fun finding something unusual to make your bells unique.

First, I cleaned the cups thoroughly and dried them. Cough syrup is really sticky, and you definitely don’t want any residue on your ornament. Next, I had to create a hole in the middle of the flat part of the cup. To make this easier and to prevent the cup from cracking, I put a small bit of painter’s tape over the spot where I wanted the hole. I used a drill to create the hole, but you could also use a sharp nail and a little pressure.

To create the silver rim, I used some Mod Podge and sparkles. You can use glue, but I used Mod Podge since it was what I had on hand. Using two paper plates, I poured a tiny amount of Mod Podge and sparkles into each plate. Then I simply dipped the edges of the cup into the Mod Podge, then rolled it around in the plate of sparkles. Allow the rim to dry for at least an hour.

To make the bell function, I used a 5-inch length of embroidery floss and a bead. Folding the floss in half, I tied a knot with the ends. Then I threaded the bead to rest on the knot. I had to use a small amount of hot glue to keep the bead steady since the bead I used had a large hole. Then, I threaded the floss through the hole at the top of the measuring cup. I used a paper clip to help me get the thread through the tiny hole. Using some more hot glue, glue the thread in place, making sure that the bead is hanging about halfway down the bell.

Tie the ends together to hold the bead in place. Use a bit of hot glue inside the bead to keep the bead from slipping through.
Hot glue the thread in place.

Once the glue is dried, it’s time to decorate! This is where you can get really creative. Since the bells are tiny, i cut a piece of plastic pine sprig up into bits. I took two tiny bits of pine and glued them on either side of the top of this bell. Then added a bow.

For another bell, I dipped the ends of the pine sprigs into Mod Podge and sprinkled the ends with some more glitter. I simply poked the ends of the pine into a small block of floral foam and then dipped away. The floral foam makes a perfect holder to allow the Mod Podge to dry.

Poke the ends of the pine sprig pieces into floral foam.
Dip in glue and pour sprinkles over it. Presto! Icy pine sprigs!

I love taking something destined for the trash and turning it into treasure. Who knew cough syrup measuring cups could look so fancy? Most of the items I used for this craft were scraps from my craft room, so it cost next to nothing. I hope this craft inspires you to find something in your medicine cabinet, or anywhere in your home, and turn it into something special.

Winter Box with Lights

This past Christmas season I was shopping at TJ Maxx looking for some last-minute items for stocking stuffers. In the long, winding checkout line, a small white box caught my eye. It was made from lightweight balsam wood and had a simple snowflake stamped on it. At $7.99, I decided to throw it on top of my pile of Christmas purchases. By the time I was pulling my car out of the parking lot, I was plotting what to do to make this simple box something warm and inviting for the cold months ahead.

This project is a perfect January craft since you can acquire most of the items just after the holidays when discounts and steals are aplenty. Plus, who says the lights all have to away just because the holidays are over? I was able to get three bundles of pinecones at my local Stop & Shop on sale for only $6. The blue and silver berry picks came from Joann Fabrics and were 80% off. The floral foam and pine sprigs were on sale for 70% off at Michael’s craft store. Lastly, I used a string of 50 white lights to give the box a warm glow.

A necessary evil.

Disclaimer: Cinnamon-scented pinecones: I hate them with a passion. Unscented pinecones are available, but at the time I was shopping for this project just after Christmas, I couldn’t find any. Every Christmas season I dread the arrival of the bins of scented pinecones that fill the front of the local grocery stores. The smell is overwhelming, and I want to gag. If you’re like me, don’t despair. When you single out the bundles of scented pinecones, they don’t smell so bad. Plus, after a while, they lose their scent completely. Since the grocery store was having such a great deal on the pinecones, I decided to suck it up and buy them, although I did leave the windows of my car open a crack so I wouldn’t get a headache from the smell while I drove home.

Okay, now that I got that off of my chest, let’s get crafting! To begin, I cut the floral foam blocks to fit into the box. I recommend doing this over a table since the floral foam makes a lot of dust. Next, I arranged the pinecones on top of the foam and moved them around until I found just the right look. Then it was time to get the hot glue gun.

I covered the bottom of the pinecones in a healthy amount of hot glue to keep them secure on the floral foam. Letting them set for at least a half hour, I then untangled the string of 50 white lights. Lights with green wire is best since it’s much easier to hide. Keeping the plug-end of the lights hanging over the edge, I carefully wove the lights between the pinecones. Once the lights were placed, it was time to fill it all in with some pine branches and accents.

Since the box I had was small, I only needed one large pick of greenery. I pulled out the individual sprigs from the pick, then I stuffed them between the pinecones, adding a dab of hot glue to the ends of the branches to keep them secure.

Cut or pop off the individual sprigs.
After adding pine sprigs.

To finish the wintry look, I cut up a few picks of white and blue berries to add a touch of color to the light box. Before gluing them down, I first placed the berries to see where they would fit best. I cut the blue berries individually and the white ones in groups of three to keep the look consistent.

Using wire cutters or scissors, cut off small bunches or individual berries for accents.

When I finished, I kept the box lit all afternoon. The (thankfully faint) smell of cinnamon filled my sitting room as the warmth of the lights heated the pinecones. The whole project took only an afternoon to complete. The box looks beautiful on my hearth. I was lucky enough to find this crate at the store, but most craft stores carry unpainted crates that could easily be painted just like this one. Keep warm this winter, and keep crafting!

Personalized Wooden Gift Tags

For this holiday month, I wanted to share a super simple craft. The best part is that it’s also an inexpensive one. Even though the holidays are a busy time, I like to try to add something crafty to everything I give to let the recipient know I care. Recently, while I was perusing Amazon, I came across a set of laser-cut ornaments for just under $15. I was looking for something to jazz up my gift bags this year, and I thought these shapes would make for great name tags.

The set came with twelve ornaments of different Christmas shapes, red & white string to hang them and jingle bells of different colors.  After deciding who in my family would get each shape, I went to my craft room for some acrylic paint.

Paint used for this project
Diamond Dotz used for this project

Diamond Dotz and paint used:

White: Craft Smart paint in white and Diamond Dotz #8002

Green: DecoArt Americana in evergreen and Diamond Dotz #8230

Red: DecoArt Americana in Alizarin Crimson and Diamond Dotz #8042

Silver: DecoArt Americana in Silver Morning and Diamond Dotz #7005

Blue: Americana in Winter Blue and Diamond Dotz #8125

After painting two coats of paint onto the ornaments, I matched up the colors to Diamond Dotz. The Diamond Dotz would not only make the ornaments pop, but they would catch all the lights on the Christmas Tree and really dazzle.

To personalize some of the ornaments, I printed out the initials of my family using Word. For the smaller ones like the stocking, I drew freehand with a fine-tipped Sharpie marker. You can use stencils if you wish, but I simply used Word to pick the font I wanted and the size that would work. Then I cut out the letters and carefully traced them with a pencil onto the painted ornaments.

Next it was time to prepare the ornaments for the Diamond Dotz. I used Aleene’s tacky glue for this part. After applying a thick coat, I wanted until glue was completely translucent (about 1-2 hours). For the reindeer and stocking, I decided not to cover the ornament in Dotz and to instead add a touch of sparkle. When the glue was ready, I started adding Diamond Dotz to the monogram letters first. Then, starting at the edge and working my way in, I added the rest of the Dotz. Since the ornaments were small, it only took the length of a Hallmark movie to complete.

When I was done, I used the string provided by the craft kit to hang them onto each gift bag. The tags made it easy for me to see who got what. I even used the colorful jingle bells! Giving something thoughtful for the holidays doesn’t have to mean spending a ton of money. Most times making someone feel special only takes a little bit of time and creativity. That’s what makes crafting so great. Happy Holidays!

Norway Spruce Holiday Swag

I wanted to try something different to decorate my front door this year.  This is the time of year I stalk the local grocery stores, trying to find an inexpensive wreath to hang on my door.  Since I don’t have a storm door, I like to get a real wreath so that it can hold up to the elements.  But I’ve also been trying to keep the holidays as simple as possible.  When I noticed my local supermarket was selling real pine wreathes for over $20, I decided this was the year I was going to look to my yard for inspiration for a door-hanging.

Monster Tree

Every fall my yard is literally bathed in pine cones, needles and leaves.  My yard has several large trees, most of them evergreen.  On one side of my yard is a giant Norway spruce.  I call it the “monster tree” because when I first saw it, I thought it was quite scary looking.  With long sweeping branches of pine, the tree truly is monstrous.  I’m always trimming its large branches back away from the house.  So, I thought, why not try to use some of these branches to make a festive piece for my front door?

Out to my yard I went with a pair of branch trimmers. The hanging pine branches are thin and all that is needed is a pair of hand clippers to cut them. It only takes a few of the hanging branches to make a decent swag, and the tree in my yard is so full that you can barely notice where I trimmed. I decided to take a few branches with pine cones still attached for an added rustic feel.

Arrange the clippings in a nice bunch.

For the bow, I used some buffalo check ribbon found at Michael’s craft store and an inexpensive red bow from Walmart. I took the red bow apart and used the wire to attach it and the buffalo check together. I’m not the best bow maker, but I did my best. Then I added some simple plastic berries I picked up on sale at JoAnn Fabrics.

Next I gathered the tops of my Norway spruce clippings and tied them together with what was left of the bow wire. Then it was time to hang it on my front door.

This craft illustrates how you don’t have to spend a lot of money to “spruce” up your exterior for the holidays. Don’t forget, you can always re-use the picks and bows on another swag or wreath next year. Not only was it cheap, but it took me no time to do. Using natural elements, you can have a door hanging that is elegant and inexpensive. Happy Holidays!

The Coffee Frame

September

Much like crafting, coffee is another passion of mine. The first thing I reach for when I wake up is my precious morning cup. There’s something comforting about holding a hot cup of coffee early in the morning. Because I drink so much coffee, I have an assortment of coffee mugs that I use. I’m quite picky about my specifications for the perfect mug. Must be roomy, but not too big. Handle mustn’t be too small or narrow. When the weather turns crisp and the leaves begin to fall, I have a few harvest and Halloween mugs that I take out of storage to use. As soon as Halloween is over, I take out my collection of holiday mugs to drink from. I have so many that I dedicate an entire cabinet in my kitchen to Christmas mugs!

Meet Betty Duck Duck Goose!
Even the bathroom gets seasonal rubber duckies.

It’s no surprise that I already have a few coffee signs hanging in my kitchen. Walking through home stores, there are endless coffee signs to buy, but I couldn’t find a coffee sign that changed with the holidays. I have always loved décor that changes with the seasons. In my bathroom, I have an assortment of different rubber duckies I’ve collected over the years that I display on a shelf depending on the time of year. By my fireplace, there’s my plastic lawn goose, Betty Duck Duck, and I have a picture frame that I have written about previously that displays the different holiday pin art that I create. But for all the different signs that are sold in stores, I had nothing in my kitchen that changed with the different seasons and holidays. That’s when I came up with the Coffee Frame.

Bought on Etsy
Bought at Walmart

I went on Etsy to find the wooden coffee mugs. There are several shops that sell laser cut wood in just about any shape. I bought six since each coffee mug so that when each side was painted it would be twelve images. For the sign, I wanted something around 8 x 10”. I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for since I wanted something hollow in the back so I could store the extra mugs, but I was able to find an inexpensive frame at Walmart that would work.

Bought at Walmart
Bought at Michael’s Craft Store

For the images, I found a variety of stencils at Michael’s Craft Store and Walmart. But, if you can’t find a stencil that you like, the internet is full of free clip art that can be printed, traced or used for inspiration.

Use tissue paper to transfer a traced clip art image
One side is July
The reverse is August

Before I started, I planned out the colors and stencils I wanted to use to depict each month. I first painted each side of the coffee mugs with the background colors I chose. Since I didn’t want to repeat any color, I thought it out before starting. Then I simply added the stencils or images on top. For some, I decided to add some simple dots or simple design to help finish the look.

To seal the coffee mugs, I sprayed them with shellac. After they dried, I drilled a small hole in the top of each mug for hanging. In hindsight, I wish I had drilled the holes prior to painting, but honestly, my drill broke and I wasn’t able to replace it sooner in the project. The next step was to paint the actual sign.

I wanted to paint the sign a nice coffee brown, and I found the perfect color.  It was even called cafe ole! For the wording, a darker brown vinyl was used.   For the lettering, I had my co-worker help, since I’m still getting the hang of using my Cricut.  If you don’t have a die-cutting machine, you can always use stencils for the wording.  After the vinyl was placed, I sealed the plaque with some more shellac.

Online I found a small “L” hook to hang the mugs. Once I gently nailed the hook into the sign it only took a few twists before the hook easily attached to the sign. The last step was adding a sawtooth hanger to the back.

This project was a lot of fun and the perfect addition to my coffee sign collection. The possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to start switching out the mugs as the months change. You can make a birthday mug, or even print a funny saying on one of the mugs. Just remember: it’s always time for coffee!

June
May
October
March
December

Wooden Butterfly Figurine

The last few weeks at work have been hard on me.  With the world adjusting to life in what seems like an endless pandemic, everyone seems stressed.  Working in healthcare has its challenges, but a particularly tough patient had me in tears recently.  It’s funny (or not so funny) how one person can ruin your day.  The anger consumed me so bad that I lost a little bit of my spark.   I have some larger craft projects that I hope to share with you soon, but this weekend I wanted to do a simple project I had on the back burner for a while.  I was glad I took it off the shelf.  I needed to relax and get back into crafting to find my light again.

Henrietta

One thing that brought me joy this August was raising a Monarch caterpillar. Every summer, my sister searches my mother’s milkweed patch for signs of Monarch Butterfly eggs. Monarchs lay their eggs on the under-side of milkweed leaves. Tearing the leaf from the plant, she places them in a jar to hatch. This year, she found several and gave me one to take home. I was terrified to be in charge of this tiny creature, but eager to try. After a couple days, the small white egg hatched and a tiny dark caterpillar emerged.

Baby Henrietta

Every day on my way home from work I stopped at a nearby soccer field.  I knew from when my daughter played soccer years before that this field had lots of milkweed.  I picked the fattest leaf I could find and placed it in the jar.  Slowly, to my great relief, the caterpillar grew and she began to show the yellow and black stripes of a Monarch caterpillar.

We named our little caterpillar Henry/Henrietta, since we weren’t sure if it was a male or a female. As the days went on, everyone in the family took turns watching little Henrietta grow. Then, the morning came when she left her milkweed leaves behind and began to crawl to the top of the enclosure. After nearly two weeks caring for her, it was a little sad to see her hang upside down from the top of the cage, readying her body for a massive transformation. But I knew going into this that she wasn’t mine to keep. I left for work that morning and my daughter texted me a couple hours into my shift. Henrietta was a bright, green chrysalis.

Every morning, instead of searching for milkweed, we checked her enclosure for signs she was ready to hatch.  Finally, after eleven days, the chrysalis turned translucent and her black and orange wings were visible on a sunny, but terribly windy, morning.  Once she was fully emerged, her wings told us she was a female butterfly.  Later that day she finally found the courage to fly into the windy afternoon.  Henrietta clung to a hydrangea leaf as the wind battered her, but finally, she flew out of my view and into the world.

I couldn’t think of a better craft than to make a sparkly butterfly figurine for my shelf. Whenever I go to a craft store, I like to explore their wooden craft section for just this purpose. I picked up the butterfly carving a few months ago. With the Monarch migration in full swing, it’s my way to honor their beautiful wings. It doesn’t hurt that since their wings are black and orange, it fits in perfectly with the Fall.

Supplies: Black, orange and white acrylic paint. Diamond Dotz used: 8002 White, 8001 Black and 8333 Dark Orange. You will also need an embroidery pen and wax to apply the Diamond Dotz.

To start, I painted the figure. You can see from the picture that the piece had designs carved into the wood, but I ignored them. You can go the further step of filling the lines with wood fill to make the wood smooth, but since I was planning to cover the piece in Diamond Dotz I didn’t bother.

Using a picture of a Monarch Butterfly as my guide, I drew the patterns of the wings with a pencil. To make the wings as identical as I could, I used a piece of tissue paper and traced the pattern on one side of the wing. Carefully, so as not to rip the tissue paper, I traced the pattern on both sides of the tissue paper so that the image would transfer onto the wood.

The last part of the painting was adding the white dots of the Monarch’s wings. Once that was done, the piece was ready for some sparkle. Using Aleene’s Tacky Glue, I applied a thick layer of the glue all over the front of the piece. The glue goes on white, but once it is ready it will appear translucent. It takes about one to two hours for the glue to settle. Then it’s time to add some sparkle!

Don’t worry, it will dry translucent, I promise!

To apply the Diamond Dotz, I used what they call an embroidery pen.  To help pick up the gems, I also recommend purchasing wax pads or pots.  Simply dip the embroidery pen into the wax and then you’re ready to go.  Whenever I want to add Diamond Dotz to a project I’m painting, I always go to the craft store (I prefer JoAnn Fabrics because I find they have a great variety of gem colors) and pick the paint out first and then head over to the display of Diamond Dotz.  This is the best way I have found to match the gems with the paint.

I love Diamond Dotz.  It’s such an easy and fun way to add some sparkle to a painting project.  And if you’ve seen my other crafts, I love sparkle.  The great thing about the tacky glue is that if you place a gem incorrectly, you can pry it off and try again.  Since I drew the pattern of the wings free-hand, I found I had to fix a few gems so they looked just right.  With such a small project, I was able to get all the gems on in one afternoon while watching football.

We all must find what brings us joy in life. For me, my joy is in crafting and writing. The world is a tough place to be right now, but if you know what brings you happiness, try to find time to do it, even if it’s for just a few minutes a day. And definitely don’t let anyone take your passion away. Happy crafting!

Safe travels, Henrietta!

Turn Vintage Elves Into Shady Shelf Elves

A while back I was at a thrift store when I spotted a pair of plaster shelf elves amongst a pile of Christmas ornaments. I love unusual Christmas decorations, especially vintage ones. So, for a buck, they were mine. Onto my windowsill they went, but I knew I needed to rehab them to bring them to their ultimate potential. The paint was dull and had grown dingy over the years. They looked drab and old sitting on the bright windowsill. One of the elves had a pointy shoe that was broken. I knew they could be so much more with a little elbow grease. After noticing them eyeing me while I decorated the tree, it hit me. It looked as if they were both judging my Christmas decorations. What if I re-painted them and made them true Shady Shelf Elves!

Supplies Needed:

Acrylic paint and fine-tipped paintbrushes

Small piece of sand paper

Wooden craft stick

Drywall spackle

Clear Acrylic Gloss Sealer

Since the elves are made of plaster, re-painting them was the easy part. I simply scuffed them up using a small piece of sand paper to make the paint easier to adhere. Using drywall spackle, I was able to fix the broken elf boot. To help shape the point of the boot, I used a wooden coffee stirrer. After the spackle dried, I carefully sanded it as smooth as I could.

For paint, I used some acrylic paint I had leftover in my craft room. I decided to change up the colors of the elves slightly. It was great to see how much better the elves began to look after a fresh coat of paint was applied. The white trim of the hats and sleeves especially looked much better with fresh paint. I allowed plenty of time for drying between coats. Finally, it was time to make these elves the judgmental elves they were destined to be.

I wanted the elves giving the side-eye to all who pass by them, so I painted the eyes white to get rid of the existing eyes. After that was dried, I painted the pupils in black first. A fine-tip paintbrush makes this much easier to do. Once that was dried, I lined the pupils with some blue paint. I finished by lining the eyes in black to make them pop. To seal the paint, I sprayed clear acrylic gloss over them.

This simple project shows that an inexpensive purchase at a thrift store can turn into a treasured Christmas decoration.  Perhaps my family will think twice before showing up to my house in an ugly Christmas sweater knowing that I have elves sitting on my shelf judging their every fashion choice.   With a little paint and time, you can turn a forgotten Christmas decoration into something fun.