Upcycled soap box

Hello, my name is aj; and I’m a ‘soapaholic’. 


If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably already figured that out!  I must confess that my addiction goes further than that.

I can’t resist ‘sniffing soaps’ at the store.

No, not the soaps in the soap aisle at the grocery store.  The ‘fancy’ soaps that come in pretty boxes.  Marshall’s is my favorite store for ‘soap sniffing’.  But I don’t sniff just ‘any soap’!  No ‘floral’ fragrances for me (except Lavender).  Other floral scents make me sneeze!  And I only like ‘neutral color’ soaps.P1260297I I was attracted to this box of soap because of the pretty box.  When I opened it and saw that it was PINK, I quickly put the lid back on and replaced it on the shelf withOUT even smelling it.  Because I don’t like pink soaps!

Just as I was starting to reach for the next box to open and sniff; the fragrance from that box with pink soap gently wafted by and it was AMAZING!  It smelled like a fresh strawberry pie.  I could NOT resist a full on sniff.  I HAD to buy it!


The soap itself went directly into my shower and the box to my craft table.  I especially like how the box was decorated with the baker’s twine.  (will have to remember that trick!)


I love upcycling these pretty soap boxes.  Usually I have to re-cover the entire box; but this one was already decorated so nicely that I only had to cover the ‘soap’ information.


I found some print scrap book paper that coordinated with the paper on the box to cover the front label.

Used a piece of the same paper to cover the bottom of the box.


There was a removable ‘riser’ in the bottom of the box that I wanted to leave in place because it SMELLED so good; so I added some of the same paper to it.

Easy peasey pretty (and fragrant!) little gift box ready to go!

The little things

I just noticed that when I post pictures of my booth at Stars, that I tend to mostly take pictures of the BIG stuff, and groupings of stuff.

So, this post is dedicated to the ‘little things’ . . .



Vintage tea pots, cookie jar; creamer and salt and pepper shaker.



Rusty metal cloches and birds and nests.


Big nest with vintage lamp shade cloche.









And a few ‘big’ pictures!






Stars is open 7 days a week; 11am – 6pm.








Sometimes, your answer LITERALLY falls from the sky!

Remember my ‘Yard Debris Wreaths’ from a while back?

I had added the nests and birds ‘as a finishing touch’, but they STILL didn’t feel done.  But I had NO idea what else to do!!  Some of you suggested adding a tag; which I tried – and nixed.  They are so ‘organic’ that the tags looked out-of-place.


The one with the nest AND bird is hanging on my front door, and the one above on the shutter door to a cabinet in my living room.


EVERY time I looked at them, I think: “They STILL need something!”  But I don’t know WHAT!!  sigh.

Then, while I was out working in my yard last week, picking up pine cones from the grass, I came across ONE of the wispy tree twigs that I had used to make the twiggy wreaths a while back.  It was just ONE little branch, and I still have a whole basketful of them leftover in my garage, AND about 15 wreaths already made; so I was just going to toss it into my yard debris bin along withe the pine cones.

Then BAM!!! Major BRAINSTORM!! 

THIS (this little twig that I had in my hand) is exactly what the moss and bark wreaths need!!!!


It’s a very subtle added touch, but just that little ‘something more’ that they needed to feel ‘finished’.

The twigs show up much better in person.  So after I did the one on my front door with the branch I had just picked up in my yard; I went to my stash in the garage to find some to add to the other wreath.


I seriously LOVE these wreaths now!

And I kinda think I like the asymmetry of the second one MORE.


This is what I used to attach the twigs.  First I found the ‘spot’ that I wanted it to originate from and ‘punched a hole’ into the wreath with the point of my scissors.  I squeezed a fair amount of tacky glue into the hole and inserted the thick end of my branch.

Then I ‘played around’ a bit with positioning the wispy branch ends.  When I found the spot I wanted them to stay in, I used the floral pins (shown above) pushed in to hold them down.  It was a little tricky to find a spot that the pins would GO through, between the pieces of bark.  Then I just glued another little piece of moss on top of the pin to disguise it!

Do you agree with me that this was the perfect finishing touch for these wreaths?

Sometimes, your answer LITERALLY does, fall from the sky!

Upcycled vintage candy box

Vintage wood candy box I found at an estate sale.


The top was fairly beat up.


Nice clean ‘innards’ though!


I would have guessed that it was maybe a cigar box; but the label on the bottom tells otherwise.


I sanded off the picture on the top with my orbital sander; then hand sanded the rest of the outside.  (it had a glossy varnish, so it HAD to be sanded before painting.)

Painted the whole thing aqua; then sanded.


BEFORE I had decided how to decorate the top of the box, I decided to use this pretty turquoise glitter paper on the inside because . . . well because I just got it and was itchin’ to use it!  (probably should have waited until I finished the outside first though!)


I selected this paper napkin for the top of the box.


This particular design ‘opens out’ to cover the whole napkin.  (not ALL decorative napkins do though!)


This was the napkin I wanted to use at first.


Alas, this design just repeats, limiting how it can be used.


The sheerness of the napkin allows the distressed wood to show though.  I used Mod Podge to apply the napkin to the box.


Then I glued a reproduction skeleton key to the front.


It’s available in my booth at Stars; along with several other upcycled little boxes!

Trying my hand at some mixed media art

Mixed Media Angel Plaque


Still ‘sorting and purging’ the craft supplies that I didn’t get rid of before I moved.


Came across this ‘thrifted’ plaque (which originally had a simple abstract design) in a box of frames,  It was either ‘USE it or donate it’ time . . . . I decided to use it.


I had NO IDEA what I was going to make of it when I first started.  I applied a page of sheet music; then layers of old clothing patterns, extending over the edges.


I ‘tested’ some assorted papers and thought about making it a ‘vintage key collage’; but I’ve dome LOTS of those.  Forcing myself to do NEW things right now . . .  and I settled upon painting an angel.


It took two coats of acrylic craft paint to cover the paper.  It’s been a while since I’ve painted eyes . . .and does it ever show!  sigh.  Then I outlined everything with a black Sharpie.


I glued a piece of gold pipe cleaner for her halo; and some little gold metallic stars on her wings.  I thought about giving her a tiny ‘key charm’ necklace, but the chain didn’t look quite right; so I settled for painting a heart on her chest.


Painting OVER the edges was new to me, so I only attempted it with the wings.


Here you can better tell the size, fairly smallish at just 8″ x 8″; even though it’s not a very good ‘photo’.  The flash made a lot of glare and the lamp is reflecting in the glass in the lantern on the right, completely obstructing the ceramic bust.

SO, that was my new adventure for now.  I’m TYING to ‘ease my way’ into less ‘physical labor intensive’ projects.  I’m not getting in younger, after all!

Hard Cover Journals

Finally using up the last of this batch of hard cover journals.


Plain ‘kraft’ covers with tea stained, lined pages.  I bought these WAAAAY back when we very first opened our shop in Hillsboro.  They were really popular back then and VERY hard to find.  I had to order them by the CASE of 50 from a wholesaler to get them.  I had completely forgotten that I even had a few left.  Came across them when I was packing to move last Spring.  Finally getting around to doing something with them!


I only had 2 of them that had not been base coated with white paint.


I just added some vintage book pages and key images to these two.


These two have gone to my booth at Stars.


Love how they look next to the old photos, and on this drop leaf table.  this just might be my new favorite color combo!  Kraft tan and aqua.


The rest of them had been base coated black, then painted a creamy white.  I sanded them with my orbital sander before embellishing them.


Remember this paper napkin design from the little trays  I did  a while back?


The design covers the entire opened up napkin, so I could cover several journals with one napkin.


I used Mod Podge to adhere the napkins to the journals.  A coat of Mod Podge to the cover; lay the image in place and smooth out as needed.  Let dry and apply a top coat of Mod Podge.  Pretty quick and easy.


I ‘could have’ cut the image larger and extended over the edges of the front, but I kind of like the look of a bit of a border.


I used this napkin for the rest of the journals.


For some reason I was having a hard time removing the ‘second layer’ of the napkin on this design; to the point that I actually thought that maybe it WAS just a one-ply!

The journal on the right is the one WITH the second ply.  I finally figured that when I had cut the pieces to size using my paper cutter that it ‘sealed’ the edges of the two plys together.  I WAS able to remove that second ply on the rest of them.  Not sure it really makes that much of a difference though.  At least not with this color.


I debating whether or not these are ‘done’ yet.  They might need a little quote of some kind added to the front??

Haven’t decided if these will go to Stars or my etsy shop.

Adding some GLITTERED crowns to my repertoire

I love glitter.  I loathe working with glitter.  I detest the ‘aftermath’ of working with glitter; IE the fact that it gets EVERYWHERE!   That being said, I NEEDED to make some glittered crowns to add to my offerings.


I re-use the cardboard from old cereal boxes for my crowns.  On the sheet music crowns, I cover the printed side of the cardboard with the sheet music, which leaves the inside of the crown, plain.


For the glittered crowns, since I have to glitter the plain side of the cardboard, I have to cover the printed side with ‘something’.  I used some old dictionary pages.  (not convinced that I will continue doing this.  I haven’t decided if it distracts from the look too much, or not).








The glittered crowns are pretty enough left ‘as is’, without any embellishment; bit I like to add a little something.


I used crepe paper rosettes on this first batch.


Glittering the edges is pretty.  Gently brush glue along the very edges of your rosette.  Pour your glitter into a shallow container and gently ‘roll’ those glued edges in the glitter.  Let dry.


Another way to embellish the rosette with glitter is to gently brush the glitter on the top of the folds and sprinkle with glitter.


I have two sizes of these scalloped edge circle paper punches; and like to stack them to embellish my rosettes.  Adding glitter to the smaller ones was a hassle because I had to do it in two steps in order to cover the whole thing AND be able to hold it to apply the glue and glitter.  My solution?  Glue a little scrap piece of paper to the back to make a ‘tab’ to hold onto.  VOILA!  I can glue and glitter the entire front all at once.  Once dry, just snip the tab off.


The two different styles of glittered rosettes side by side, with scalloped centers.

P1250994After I added the rosettes to the crowns I decided they needed a little something more, and added a little bling to the center.


If the crown fits . . . . wear it! (more…)

Published in: on March 23, 2016 at 10:13 pm  Comments (1)  

Head count


My mannequin head collection started with these three vintage ones.  The one on the left, I covered with torn vintage dictionary pages, and mounted on the round wood base from a cheese board.

You can see how I made the tallest one in the center HERE.

The one on the right I actually left ‘as found’; just added a bit of spray varnish to prevent further ‘shedding’.


I made this one last year from a NEW styro head that I bought at the craft store.  Not really caring for the look and feel of styrofoam, I covered with paper mache then sanded to smooth it out.  I glued a glass bowl to the bottom of this one and spray painted the whole thing a flat white.

The reason I ‘add things’ to the bases of these heads is to give them some ‘weight’  and a broader base,

so they don’t tip over too easily when used at a show or in my booth.


Here is my latest addition to the collection.  Found this vintage head at an estate sale and it was a very WEIRD shaped face!?!  Very flat nose bridge and very BIG eye sockets . . .and NO mouth!  Looked like an alien head to me!!


I covered this one with vintage sewing pattern pieces.  Just tore up an old pattern into small pieces and applied them with white glue.


For the base on this one, I glued on a vintage wood bowl that I had painted black.


Just a little bigger than the base of the head is a perfect fit.


Modeling one of my newest crowns.


And the gangs all here!  Displayed on the shelf above my bed until they are called to duty.


And the all white one is now ‘on duty’ in my booth at Stars in this just added crown display.


I’m ‘test marketing’ assorted sizes.  I’ve made small and full size ones before, just not displayed and sold them at the same time.


Will be interesting to see which size sells better.


The small ones, for just decorative use.


Or the bigger ones that are actually wearable.


Candle stands make cute displays for the smaller ones.




Some are ‘bear’ size.


‘Almost’ vintage cherub size.




I wish I could find more of this vintage, WIDE, eyelet lace.  I tea stained it and stiffened it before adding the embellishments.


Yes, this is what I use a lot of those crepe paper rosettes for.




These crowns are now available for purchase in my booth at Stars.


My favorite little model, PRICELESS!

TUTORIAL: Picture Perfect Crepe Paper Rosettes

I’ve been making, and crafting with crepe paper rosettes for a while now.  Actually I started with PAPER rosettes, then progressed to crepe paper.  I assumed that the ‘material’ used didn’t make any difference; and I made my first crepe paper rosettes using the exact same method as I had used on regular paper ones.


EPIC FAIL!!  What the heck happened?!?!?  I folded it SO perfectly!  As soon as I glued on the backing though, it went all ‘cattywompus’ and smooshed up.  sigh.


Trying as best I could, I just could not get them to look any better than this; looking like they’ve been stepped on by an elephant!    Heavy sigh!


I wanted them to be PERFECT, like this paper rosette.

dsc00073And these!


The ‘smooshed’ ones weren’t entirely unusable; and by the time I added other embellishments the smooshiness was less noticeable.  Still, the perfectionist in me wanted to make PERFECT ones.


This is how they look BEFORE gluing on the backing.  I wanted them to STILL look like this AFTER I added the backing.  The problem was that the crepe paper is so ‘delicate’.  Whereas regular paper ‘held up’ under the pressure of having the backing ‘pressed firmly into place’; this pressure was enough to smoosh and displace all those perfect little folds.


So, I continued the TRY to make perfect ones, and continued to get not so perfect ones; but used them anyhow!  (I mean, it’s not like anyone was complaining that my crepe paper rosettes were too smooshed!)


They were ‘passable’ . . . .but I still wanted perfect!

Yes, I realize that I am really dragging this post out!  Intentionally so; to emphasize my long-term frustration and ‘trial and error’ in perfecting this process.   

Yes, I finally DID figure out hot to make ‘picture perfect’ crepe paper rosettes.  Drum roll please . . . . .


For the sake of those whom may not have made rosettes at all before; I’m starting at the VERY beginning.

 *** Cut a 30″ piece of crepe paper.

*** Fan fold the entire length in 1/4″ folds.


I find it easiest to do this part ‘on my thigh’ as opposed to on a table or hard surface.  BUT, you will need a hard surface for the next steps.  That black with white dots thing in then picture is my little ‘lap desk’ that I use for my hard surface.


*** Keeping your folds as uniformly as possible, fold the entire piece; trim off any extra end piece that hangs over the last fold. 

***  Hold your completely folded piece between both pairs of index fingers and thumbs and squish it together with all your might, to really crease those folds tightly.P1250859

*** Glue your fully folded piece, end to end, using the SMALLEST amount of TACKY glue possible.  Apply your glue to one end of your folded piece, then bring it ‘full circle’ to the other end; gently pinch between your fingers  to get it to hold.

 DO NOT use hot glue or regular white glue.  Regular white glue is too ‘wet’.  That, and/or too MUCH tacky glue will end up gluing together several LAYERS of your folds.  You want all your folds to ‘separate nicely’.


NOW you will need your hard surface to work on.  I keep my little lap desk next to my ‘working chair’ within easy reach.

THIS is how your folded piece will look if you DON’T ‘crease your folds’ tight enough.  ‘Some’ crepe papers are thinner and less ‘crepe-ish’ than others, and those will also ‘sprawl out’ like this.  You will need to go around the circle the reinforce your creases if this happens.


THIS is what you want your piece to look like when you lay it flat, after gluing the ends together.


You will need a round piece of paper or card-stock for your backing.  I prefer card-stock; and I use a scalloped edge paper punch to make my backings.  Keep in mind that your backing might ‘show through’; so you might need to have it cut from a matching color.


***With your rosette laying flat on your hard work surface; fully cover your backing piece with PLENTY of tacky glue.  This ‘seemingly excess amount of glue’ is KEY to making PERFECT crepe paper rosettes!  Don’t skimp on the glue on this step.


This step can be a tad tricky, because you almost need THREE hands for it!  With practice you  will  learn how to maneuver your rosette so that the center is completely closed using just one hand.

*** Still working on your hard surface; With your glue covered backing all ready to go, after you have your rosette ‘closed tightly’, VERY GENTLY lay your glue covered backing onto your rosette; very gently tap around the edges to be sure the glue has ‘grabbed on’.


IMPORTANT!!!  DO NOT PUSH HARD ON YOUR BACKING!!  That is what will smoosh all those perfect little folds and displace the spacing of them.  IF you have used enough glue on your backing, it will hold well enough for the next step.


Your center might re-open a tad when you flip your rosette over.  Don’t worry, it’s fixable; as are any folds that are too clumped together or too spread out.


***  THIS is another reason that you don’t apply too much pressure on the backing; you may need to ‘adjust the spacing of your folds’.  I use a small paint scraper for this.  With the scraper, gently move your folds as needed to evenly distribute them.  (You won’t ALWAYS need to do this; sometimes the folds are already perfect!)


Once you are happy with the spacing of your folds, it’s time to make them stay that way.  Again I use my paint scraper, but a piece of stiff cardboard would probably work just as well.



*** Place your paint scraper between each perfectly spaced fold, as close to the center as possible, and press down.  THIS is what makes the backing stick tightly to the rosette WITHOUT smooshing them. 

This might seem a bit tedious, but it really only takes a few seconds, and makes ALL the difference in creating a PERFECT rosette.


*** Lastly, press FIRMLY in the very center with your index finger.  


Look at those perfect folds!!

*** Let  your rosette lay flat for a few hours for the glue to completely dry.  

You might notice that the glue ‘bleeds’ through the crepe paper and leaves the whole thing a bit damp.  Just don’t stack them yet and they will dry just fine.


Once completely dry, I store my rosettes on their side, like this, in a box.


I like to keep a stash of rosettes ‘ready to use’ for when inspiration strikes.  I’ll usually make them while I watch TV in the evening.

Please let me know if this tutorial was helpful to you.


About a year ago I asked for the advice of a very knowledgeable business colleague about suggestions for increasing my sales in my booth at Stars.

Sales are GOOD, mostly quite steady; an occasional jump up and an occasional ‘slowish’ month.  Nothing at ALL to complain about, but I wanted to know if she had any suggestions for increasing my business.  Most of what we discussed I had already tried or was already doing.  Her biggest suggestion was in regards to COLOR.  (did you see THAT coming?)

She suggested that I might be in a bit of a rut with my aqua color scheme, and I really CAN’t disagree with her!  I’d LOVE to work with other colors; alas they just don’t seem to SELL for for,  sigh.

Still, I value her opinion and decided to ‘give it a shot’ and really give it my ALL this time.  I almost always ‘change things up a bit’ seasonally in my booth.  Adding a few red or pink pieces for Valentine’s; bringing in a LOT of white for spring; then going back to aqua after that.

SOME of the white stuff always sells fairly quickly . . . .the the rest of it just sits and sits and sits.  I rearrange it and move it around and it still just sits.  So, I give up and take the white furniture pieces home, paint them aqua and bring them back in and BAM!  They sell!

At her suggestion, this time, I ‘let it ride’ a bit longer; for over a year actually.  My overall sales didn’t suffer at all during that time, but even I was getting tired of reworking the same old furniture pieces week after week; and finally started pulling the ‘tired’ pieces and taking them home to re-paint.

 I’m glad I took her suggestion and gave it more time because now I really KNOW that, for me at least, that adding more white did not really have an impact on my sales.  Therefore, I am more much more confident in painting so many of my furniture pieces aqua.

BTW, shoppers ask me why I don’t do other colors too.  It’s just evolved into being part of my ‘signature  style’ and it just WORKS for me.  I’d have never imagined that I’d STILL be doing the aqua (or turquoise) for THIS long; buy you know the old saying:  “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  In that spirit; here are my latest ‘do-overs’.00q0q_d9aAxcJmfm4_600x450

Creamy white upcycled PETITE step-back.  BEFORE.




Perfect for holding Easter smalls.


Set of three wrought iron and wood nesting tables.  As is my habit to do, I priced them individually; and the two smaller ones sold.  So I took the remaining largest one home.  (originally the table tops were dark stained wood with glossy varnish; I sanded them and gave them a weathered wood finish.)


The wood part is very easily removable for repainting.  I repainted the one remaining table top shabby aqua.


I really like this ‘open’ area.  Even though it’s original purpose was to nest the other two tables into; it’s still a great feature . . .


Perfect little nook for extra display space! I can see this space being used to store a basket of kids toys or magazines or even a stack of floor pillows!


This adorable little drop leaf table has been around for AGES.  After a while I just started using it ‘as a riser’ for setting other things on top of.  The legs were in decent shape, so I just repainted the top.  It’s been in and out of my booth more times than I can count.


Then I found this second similar one and painted it aqua.  Since I had to paint the base on this one (which took a LOT more time!) I had to charge considerably more for it.  Just after I had put it in my booth, a customer stopped to look at it; saying to his wife he thought it would work for their TV.  I had not yet removed the other one from my booth, so I pointed it out to them also; and mentioned the price difference.  This aqua one sold a week later, and that was when I decided to re-paint the other one.


I decided to still leave the legs the original color.  Sanded the varnish off the top and painted aqua.  While sanding to distress I made sure to sand all the way down to the wood in some spots, and just down to the white in others.


Kind of reminds me of clouds in the sky.

P1250773With one drop side up.

P1250789 Nice and compact when you don’t need the extra room.


Published in: on March 10, 2016 at 4:24 pm  Comments (6)  

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