Thursday, May 29, 2014

To Paint or Not to Paint?

Years ago, I found this terrific metal chair at a local thrift store for $3. It was love at first sight, even though I didn't know exactly where or how I would use it.

Over the years, I collected three more. I picked them all up at the same thrift store. All at different times. All for the same low price of $3. In the back of my mind, I envisioned painting them bright colors and strategically placing them in our vast backyard garden.

They might look at home alongside the vintage bicycle and tricycle.

When I recently pulled the chairs out of the back shed where I had stored them out of sight since I purchased the last one,  I was surprised at how rich the rust and chipping really was.

I like it so much I'm thinking about not painting, but instead, simply applying a clear coat sealant to prevent further deterioration.

What would you do? Paint or not paint? Give me your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Make it a great day!
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Repurposed Wine Rack Is DIY Fabric Organizer

Let me set the stage:

I don't have a fancy schmancy craft room. What I have is the unfinished side of our basement where, for the original owner of our 50-year-old quasi cottage-style home, the wood and metal shop resided.

After we became empty nesters, I was determined to take up creative endeavors that I had abandoned more than 25 years ago, when the kids were young.

I know my way around a sewing machine and other artsy crafty tools, but neither hubby nor I are handy around the home. So, I made do with a simple facelift to the workshop. I pulled the doors off the cabinetry above the workbench, painted the cabinetry and bench and have called this crude space crafting home ever since.

I have an overabundance of fabric. The bigger pieces are stacked by color inside those cabinets I painted, visible at a glance without the cabinet doors. Organizing the remnants after I cut into the yardage has been more of a challenge.

Enter this odd-looking and probably homemade wine rack.

Standing more than four feet high, it's probably no surprise that it hadn't been snatched up by the second day of the rummage sale where I found it. For me, it was repurpose love at first sight. I knew instantly it would be the answer to my snarl of fabric remnants.

Even though it looks as if it were made of Tinker Toys, it is rock-solid sturdy.

Gave it a nice wash of Annie Sloan chalk paint. I liked the dark wood peeking through, so I only gave it a light coat, not worrying if it covered completely. And, frankly, the design of the piece made painting tedious.  Now it just looks distressed--without the extra effort to distress.

At first, I set the rack up vertically, which is the way it was designed.

After moving it around the workshop, I decided to place it horizontally on an old steamer trunk, which made it more accessible. No stooping all the way to the floor to reach the low rows.

So nice not to have to dig through piles to find just the perfect scrap.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Springtime at the Garden Gate

Many years ago I picked up a vintage garden gate at a garage sale.

Then, a few years ago, I found what looked like architectural salvage at Hobby Lobby--in the clearance aisle. There were three big pieces and I bought them all. They're probably not meant for outdoor use, as they appear to be made of plaster.

When I moved the garden gate to the front of the house a couple of years ago, I positioned one of the architectural pieces behind it to add interest. The gate sits up against the house and under the eaves, so the piece is protected from the elements. I took in over the winter the first year, but have since left it behind the gate year-round and it still looks to be in good condition.

Over the years I decorated it with different wreaths for the changing seasons.

Frankly, though, I'm not a wreath person. I've tried. I really have. Different sizes, shapes, materials. They just don't do anything for me. So, this year I decided to look for something different for spring/summer.

Saturday, when my hubby and I were at one of my favorite church sales of the year, I found what I thought could be the answer. This vintage aluminum pitcher caught my eye and I instantly visualized it full of pretty plants and hanging from the garden gate. The church lady told me this pitcher had actually come from the very old church's kitchen and had been used countless times to serve ice water at church events. How sweet.

A small digression . . . 

This church sale is one of my favorites because it's also a plant sale. Members of the congregation offer up plants from their own gardens every year. The most expensive plants are $3 each. Many are less than that. Some are smallish, but, as you can see from the photo below, many are quite large. Here are the plants I took home this year--all for only $16.

Back to the garden gate . . .

The pitcher is now filled with pretty color that stands out nicely against our house. For my taste, a more interesting solution than a wreath.

Now, for a cool drink of seasonal color . . .

Make it a great day!
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pardon My French (Ephemera)

Last weekend had to be a record here. Thirteen estate sales were advertised around the city. I can't remember another weekend with that many sales!

Sadly, since this was one of the first warm and nice weekends we've had here, I felt compelled to finish cleaning up the flower beds and pruning rose bushes and shrubs. That left little time for estate sales, but I did make it to one--the one closest to where I live.

I'm always on the prowl for ephemera I can incorporate into my handmade journals and wasn't disappointed at this sale.

My take included what I think is a French notebook--it's difficult to tell from the cover--and a French dictionary, as well as a cute bakery receipt book, a large stack of yellowed penmanship paper and several decks of playing cards with interesting themes. All the finds are vintage.

I don't know French, so I'm not sure what the cover of this journal says. Inside are several pages of handwriting. Guess I'll have to enlist my hubby to try to translate some of it for me. He knows a little French.

While not in the best condition, the journal is precious. The handwriting makes it so personal.

Whose was it?

What does it say?

Is it full of deep thoughts or is it merely a place to practice writing in French?

Regardless, I won't dismantle this gem for my journal and decoupage projects. I plan to digitize a few pages so I can leave the book intact and still use some of the handwriting.

At the same sale, I acquired a sweet little French/English dictionary. The cover is in pathetic condition, with the spine nearly completely detached. Someone had tried mending it, front and back, with masking tape. So sad.

Measuring about five inches square, it was printed in 1945. Considering the condition of the cover, the inside pages are in good vintage condition. They have that nice "yellow-with-age" hue.

Nice inscription inside the cover. Wish I knew what it says.

The receipt book is from Dale and Helene's Big Horn Bakery of Basin, Wyoming. The "fill-in-the-blank" date on the receipts indicates it's from the 1950s.  Could be as old as I am. Not many pages left in the pad, but what's there is in very good vintage condition.

Looks great on the antique Hoosier cabinet with some of my vintage kitchen items.

It's always a successful weekend when I come home with interesting ephemera.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Wedding Decor Fits Occasion to a Tea

My daughter-in-law is a woman after my own heart. Her style truly is my cup of tea.

Our son, Sam, and Meg recently were married in a charming little venue that reflected their personalities and styles perfectly. A little bit shabby chic, a tad rustic, a dab French vintage. All of which I, too, love.

Always itching for a reason to treasure hunt, I was tickled to death when Meg asked me to help find vintage tea cups and saucers and teapots they could incorporate into their reception table centerpieces.  She knows I love to sew, so she also offered me the job of making table runners for the event--an opportunity I jumped on.

Over the course of nearly a year, I collected about 30 teapots. Or, I should say teapots and coffee pots. I added several china coffee pots to the collection to put some height in the mix. Many of the pots were in mint condition, but others were missing lids or had minor chips or blemishes. Not to worry, though. Meg's vision was to fill many of them with fresh flowers and succulents, which would mask most flaws.

At around 50 sets, I lost count of the cup and saucer duos I picked up at local thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales. With a self-imposed price limit, the entire collection of cups, saucers and pots cost under $250. The same collection likely would have cost much more where they live.

We originally planned to make the table runners out of painter's drop cloths. In fact, I bought the drop cloths before my sister suggested we use linen fabric like the  type she sells in her eclectic Scottsdale store. She was able to get the amount of fabric we needed from one of her sources.

The linen is vintage and comes from France and Belgium. As you can see in the photo, it is used and each roll had its varying degree of stains. The flaws only added to the charm of the settings. The rolls were the perfect width for the wedding tables and were already finished on the sides. All I had to do was cut the lengths to fit and hem the ends. Much easier that cutting and finishing all the edges of the drop cloth.

Brilliant idea, Sis, and much more charming than the original idea.

I have long been our family's unofficial photographer. If you take a lot of photos for your family events, you know how much of the experience you miss when you're stuck behind the camera. For the wedding weekend, I gave myself permission to put my camera down so I wouldn't miss a moment of this special time. That meant I personally didn't capture any photos of the finished wedding reception tables (or the dress rehearsal dinner decor I created--which I'll blog about another day).

Fortunately, the wedding photographer captured some shots of the decor. Thanks to Al Gawlik Photography, we do have some photos of how the pretty tables turned out. All of the wedding day photos in this post are shown courtesy of Al and Amy Gawlik.

The venue was small, seating only 100, but oh, so charming. Original rough wood floors and an original brick wall, set the tone for the wedding decor. The space was decorated with antique pieces that doubled as serving surfaces and backdrops for the ceremony and reception.

Vintage books added to the nostalgic feel of the table decor and reflected the style of the old, restored venue. The French linen runners tied the centerpieces together.

My son and his friend brewed the beer for the reception, shown in the brown bottle in the middle of the centerpiece.

The photographers took more pictures of the tables. I'll share some of them when I get them later this month.

Collecting tea cups and teapots was so much fun. Until I did this, I never dreamed the variety I'd find. We're driving to Texas to visit the newlyweds in a few weeks. Because they don't have space to keep this eclectic collection, I get to bring them home with me. I look forward to incorporating some of them into my own decor!

Make it a great day!
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Strut Your Stuff