Altered tins

Got these cute rectangular tins EONS ago; when we were still doing primarily primitives in our store in Hillsboro.  I think they had repro vintage laundry detergent labels on them.  They were on clearance and super cheap, so I bought a CASE of them; in sets of 3 graduated sizes.  The smallest about the size of a box of band-aids.

P1100939I did sell a few of them ‘as purchased’ in a little laundry vignette in the store with old wash tubs, wash boards, old clothespins etc.  (the above three are currently at Stars)

STILL had a lot of them left.  So I made primitive tea stained labels to put on some of them to sell alongside the vintage bottles that I similarly labeled.  (photo from Stars 2010)

You can see the can a little better in this picture.  So I did that with a bunch of them and sold them as such.  Then I started working on more of them and got as far as covering the original label with dark brown or tea stained paper; then I stopped.  Recently found that box of them; and with those ‘blank canvases’ made these new altered versions:

P1100842So I dug through my piles of scrapbook paper and embellishments and started layering stuff on!

P1100843even did the sides of some of them!

P1100844And some had to be covered on the backside too because they were all scratched up.

From my previous experience with selling these in our store, I knew that people would HAVE to take the lids off.   That’s the first thing they did when they would pick them up to look at them.  Take the lid off.  Even though they are obviously EMPTY.  It’s just human nature.  We want to SEE what’s inside.  But the lids were a very snug fit and it took time to get them back on.  Hence, at the end of every day at the store, I had to walk around and puts the lids back on all the tins!  sigh.  Since I can’t ‘be there’ to replace  the lids at the malls, and don’t want them to ‘go missing’  (you’d be amazed at what ‘walks out’ of those places!?!) I GLUED them on when I started this project!  (which does NOT necessarily guarantee that I WON’T find them with the lids taken off!)  double sigh!

P1100845I just sat at my coffee table in front of the TV one evening, glue bottle in hand, and altered away! (Aleen’s tacky glue is the ONLY glue I use!)

P1100846The ‘fauxen’ (faux frozen!) Charlotte’s are ones I molded with Sculpey clay.  Bought the mold to make them on etsy.

P1100847The moon face is molded clay too.  (Got this mold at the craft store)  The key is from a pack designed for paper crafts; flat on the back side so they glue down nicely.

P1100848And the top of that one.

P1100849Another face from the same mold set.  Embossed butterfly bought in a package at craft store.  You’ll notice that I also used these as wings for some of the Charlottes.

P1100850And another flat back key.


Vintage looking photos from an embellishment pad.  TONS of great stuff in that thing!

P1100852Bingo card from the same pad.  Tiny clay moon face on butterfly.

P1100853These particular crowns are made from a paper die cut.  (not a die cut MACHINE; don’t have one of those YET!  But the little single ones you can buy at the craft store)

P1100854Another (smaller!) Charlotte.  I used my Ralph Lauren tobacco glaze to ‘antique’ the Charlottes and moon faces.

P1100855The biggest Charlotte of the bunch.  These wings I cut myself from scrap paper.

P1100856The top.


P1100858Vintage dictionary page is from an actual old dictionary.  I use the paper from it a LOT.  Really inexpensive to buy at a thrift store.  Another ‘flat back’ key.  The vintage post card images are cut from a 12×12 sheet of scrapbook paper covered with them.


P1100860Half a Charlotte???  Well, I didn’t have enough clay left to make a whole one and I didn’t want to waste that last little bit of it! (what can I say?  Waste not, want not!)


P1100862Bird cage die cut from an embellishment pack.


P1100864Just layers of papers and a single embellishment.

P1100865Top.  ALL the tops have at least a strip of paper on them.  I only took pictures of the tops that I added MORE than just the paper to.

P1100866Another vintage look picture from the pad.


P1100868Funny cartoon image from the embellishment pad.

P1100869And another one of those flat keys.  Now that I’ve actually USED the keys, I’m wishing that I had bought MORE of them!

But more often that not, I buy stuff like that ‘when it catches my eye’ and it’s sometimes YEARS before I actually USE it.  And by then, if I decide I want MORE, they don’t have them anymore?!?!  But maybe that’s a GOOD thing!

I did all of these in one evening, in front of the TV.

Applying old book pages to furniture

By now I’m SURE you’ve seen the new decorating trend of using old book pages and sheet music to cover pieces of old wood furniture.  I’ve been doing it for quite some time, but had not used the technique for a while; only because I didn’t have any good ‘candidates’ for the procedure.


Untillllllllllllllllllllllll . . . . I found this little cutie at an estate sale.



And this ugly mess on the inside of the door, but otherwise in good shape and such pretty wood; it is the perfect candidate for using old book pages to cover up the flaws that ‘just painting over’ would not be enough to repair.


Perhaps I can even cover the entire inside of the cubby too?!?!


I started by sanding the top and that ugly patch on the inside of the door.  The ‘drawer innards’ were pretty ugly too, so I glued down a heavy-duty piece of cardboard and planned to add book pages there also.


For the pretty wood parts that I didn’t want to cover up, I simple ‘refreshed’ the finish withy some medium Watco oil.


When it came time to paper the top and inner part of the door, I decided to give my ‘outdoor’ Mod Podge a try.  Thinking that it would be a better and longer lasting finish than the ‘liquid starch and varnish’ method I have always used in the past.

TOTAL FAIL!!!!  All the pages bubbled and wrinkled and just in general looked AWFUL.  But it had been a little damp outside, even in the workshop and storage shed; so I brought it inside to see if the dry air would.  Nope.  I was going to have to sand it all off and start over!!!!   DOH!!!!


But it was well worth that extra work.  Look how beautiful it turned out!!  The book pages were naturally yellowed and the liquid starch dried smooth as glass.  Once completely dry, I added a coat of matte varnish as a protective sealer.


So the moral of this story is: Forget all those fancy newfangled specialty products and stick with your tried and true techniques if you are happy with how they work.


I ended up NOT papering the entire inside of the cubby.  Would have required a bit more ‘reaching in and contorting’ than I ma able to do with my ‘bum back’.


I added matching vintage pulls to the drawer and door.  Will save the crystal knob that came on the drawer for a future project.

P1100827After all that extra work of having to sand off the first paper application, I decided the drawer innards were well enough to leave alone.


Even the back side of this piece is quite pretty.  But if you have pieces with ugly backing and the back part will show with where you are using it; the book pages technique is perfect for that.


This piece is destined for my booth at Stars; and will be there by the end of the week.

More paper wreaths and making do

This is what I’ve used in the past to make my wreaths with leaves cut from old book pages and/or sheet music.  Used to be able to get the green foam wreath forms at dollar stores.  NOT any more though.  And I REFUSE to pay ‘craft store prices’ for styrofoam products!  So I always keep an eye out for them at thrift stores, rummage and garage sales.  But even there, it’s been pretty slim pickins!

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 017I scored a few of them recently and made a new batch of wreaths using ‘tea stained’ vintage sheet music leaves.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 002Just prior to this I had been working on some sea glass wreaths, for which I need FLAT wreath forms.  For those I cut out two circles from cardboard and glue them together, then cover them with paper; kind of decopage style.  Once dry, all the layers make it sturdy enough to hold up to the weight of the sea glass.  I had a few extras of those flat wreath forms and decided to try the paper leaves on those!  Above is the resulting wreath.

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And I actually quite LIKED how it turned out UNTIL I saw them side by side.  And the flat one just looked TOO flat.  But it’s funny because in this photo, I like the flat one (on the left) better!

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 005From this angle though, the one on the rounded wreath form looks better.  BUT since they are becoming so hard to find . …

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 016I guess I’ll be doing the flatter version more often.  As long as I don’t have the two versions side by side for comparison, the ‘make-do’ flat wreath forms will work just fine.

Two heads ARE better than one!

MOST of the time I have TOO many ideas.  I’ll know WHAT I want to do, but can’t decide which way to do it.  And oftentimes,  my FIRST idea is not the one I end up using.  Rather one thing leads to another and eventually I get the look I was going for.  It’s a PROCESS.  Then there are the times that I just get STUCK!

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 013And adding ‘that finishing touch’ to these two newly re-papered boxes was one of those times! 

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 The bottom one is ‘hat box’ size and made of paper mache.  

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I have no idea what the top one was for originally.  It had an ugly red-ish alligator skin finish, and is made of wood with a velvet-like lining inside.  VERY sturdy.  My first thought was to make it into a padded foot stool, with storage space inside.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 020So after I re-papered them and applied a couple of coats of matte varnish for durability, I wanted to add a ‘finishing touch’.  This round wood finial was perfect for the mache hat box; BUT I really wanted to STACK the boxes when I take them to my booth at Curiosities in Beaverton.  So, that meant I couldn’t put a knob on the box that would go on the bottom.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 022BUT, the little black knob just didn’t ‘look right’ on the bigger box.  It felt too small.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 024So I decided to ‘beef it up’ a bit.  I always keep some of these little wood plaques on hand, so I tried adding one of those first.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 023(of course I would have painted it black too, but I was just ‘trying it on for size’ first)  Still not big enough!

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 012So I went back to my ‘wood parts stash’ and got another round piece like the first one.  Found this FABULOUS unfinished ‘bun foot’ and sandwiched it between the 2 small rounds.  Then added a bigger round plaque as a base.  I was still just ‘experimenting’ so nothing had been glued together yet.  And I kept trying different combinations . . .but I was just STUCK!  I could NOT decide what to do?!?!  Because I REALLY wanted the black knob on the black lid; but I also wanted to be able to stack the boxes!!  aaaaaaaaargh!!

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 025The SIZE of the bigger one (as shown above) was certainly the right scale, but for some reason I just could NOT commit to permanently attaching it to the bigger box.  Maybe I was ‘too stuck’ on the idea that it would make a great storage foot stool?!?

So I enlisted Michael’s help  and asked for his opinion.  Showed him all the different options, and explained why I didn’t want to attach it to the hatbox, but also didn’t want to ruin the possibility that the bigger one could be used as a foot stool.

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It took him maybe 2 seconds to come up with the perfect solution:  Just leave it SEPARATE, like a finial.  Don’t attach it to either, but just set it on top of the taller box when you display them.

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Genius!  HOW did I not think of that myself?!?!?



Paper leaf topiary and wreath

Found the topiary forms on clearance a while back.  The little urn came from a thrift store.

I hand cut the leaf shapes from old book pages.  Did an entire book over the course of a week or so while I watched TV in the evening.  Can’t do too many at a time or I get blisters and/or hand cramps!

To ‘tea stain’ the leaves, I use my own stain recipe (NOT made with coffee or tea – they get too stinky!)  Turn oven on to LOWEST temp.  Take a cookie sheet and spray it down with water (so leaves will stick in place)  Place paper leaves on cookie sheet and spritz with stain.  Put cookie sheet full of leaves in oven and turn over OFF.  There will be enough heat to dry the leaves in about half an hour.

I had to saw off (using a serrated kitchen knife) some of the base of the topiary to get it to fit my container.  Glued it into the container and then on to the leaves.  Using a hot glue gun, glue the leaves on, one by one, until your topiary ball is fully covered.

I also glued leaves over the top of my topiary base, in the container.  You could use moss for this, I just wanted to try it with leaves.

I’m sure everyone already knows this trick, but just in case you haven’t used your glue gun in a while (like me!) and have forgotten; to remove those pesky glue ‘hairs’ that are always left behind after using your hot glue gun, just give your item a once over with a hand held hair dryer set on hot, and they will disappear!

And while I had my paper leaves out, I decided to make a couple of wreaths, using styro rounds from the dollar store.  (You CAN buy the styro wreaths at a regular craft store for about $6.00. . but WHY would you when you can get them for a dollar?!?!)

Glue does not stick well to styrofoam, and HOT glue will just melt it.  (they do make a special styrofoam glue, but it’s pricey and I’ve not tried it)  So I cover my wreath with newsprint paper first.  ANY kind of paper will work, I just happened to have some newsprint packing material leftover.  Cut or tear your paper into strips.  I glued mine on with tacky glue.  Just be sure your entire form is fully covered with paper.

Glue your leaves on using a hot glue gun, all going in the same direction.  I usually end up doing 3-4 leaves across; and I do NOT cover the back with leaves, since it really won’t show.

The paper leaves ‘curl’ a bit when they dry in the oven, and variegate a little in color; which creates a very natural look.  The neutral color of these pieces make them perfect for year round display and work well in any color palette.