DIY Gold Stripe Tray

When I was considering adding the tulip table to my foyer I wanted to have a little spot to corral the mail, my keys and other things when I come in the door. I knew a small tray would be ideal for that purpose, so I set out to find one that met my criteria – it needed to be rectangular, not too expensive, and it needed to have some colour given the table and the walls in my foyer are white.

To be honest I had absolutely no plans on DIYing anything, and I actually did find a lovely contender for the spot at HomeSense that was just $13. Then of course I went to the thrift store and found a tray for $1.99 and my plans changed.  Given its thrift store provenance the tray was predictably ugly, but it was the right size and shape and I knew that making it prettier would be easy.Thrift store tray before

I’ve been in LOVE with this tray forever, and if it had been the right size I may have been tempted to buy it for my foyer (but only if it also went on sale). Since the original wasn’t to be I decided to make my own version using my thrift store tray and spray paint I already had on hand.

(Appologies for the bad cell phone picture)

(Apologies for the bad cell phone picture)

After spraying the tray white I set out to mark off the pattern on the top of the tray using masking tape. I eyeballed the pattern and used a small piece of tape to help with the spacing between the lines.  I did have painters tape on hand, but it was too wide for the scale of my tray so I ended up using the regular masking tape (I use it in class to tape my drawings to the drafting table).  Thrift store tray painted gold

Once the pattern was complete I sprayed the tray top and bottom with gold spray paint, and when it was dry I peeled off the tape and voilà – a gold stripe tray.DIY Gold stripe tray

There was some bleeding under the tape that more than likely wouldn’t have occurred if I’d used painters tape, but I’m honestly not too concerned.DIY Gold Stripe tray.

Not bad for $2 right?

DIY Birdfeeder

One of the classes I took last semester was Design Fundamentals, and one of the major assignments of the course was to design either a birdfeeder or birdhouse. When my instructor first told us about the assignment I wasn’t worried – I birdhouse couldn’t be too hard right? I mean, kids build them all the time in scouts and girl guides. It turns out I was a little misguided in my assumption of the project’s ease. Our projects had to be created out of materials that weren’t originally meant for either a birdhouse or feeder (this of course meant that we couldn’t buy a kit from the craft store and simply paint it – drat!).

Once I put my thinking cap on I came up with an idea I thought was pretty smart. My plan was to take a vintage suitcase and turn it into a birdhouse – I’d cut holes in it, and create vintage looking travel stickers depicting bird migration destinations. I ran into an unexpected problem however – have you ever tried to find a reasonably priced vintage suitcase in Toronto? I have, and I can tell you it’s not possible. I blame the hipsters.

Anyways, when it became apparent my genius (if I do say so myself) plan wasn’t going to work I had to come up with something else, and by then I had just a week to source materials and construct it. Unfortunately I faced a rather large problem – I had absolutely no idea what I was going to create. Searching the internet for inspiration was no help, so I did the only other thing I could think of – the weekend before the project was due I took an epic shopping trip to every thrift shop I could find between Toronto to Burlington looking for ideas.

I have no idea how many shops I went to. I bought random things here and there hoping I’d eventually be able to make them into something, but I still hadn’t had that ‘light bulb’ moment. Before heading back to Toronto I stopped in Ikea (on a Saturday afternoon – this should tell you how desperate for inspiration I was) and I found an item that finally looked hopeful.

I bought a white Skurar candle lantern and planned to turn it into a bird feeder. A few more stores over the next few days and I had all the rest of the materials I needed.

With just two days to complete the project I got started. I wish I could say I took process shots, but I was more worried about just completing the birdhouse which was worth 20% of my grade. The idea was to use the sippy cup to hold the seed and then attach it to the plate as the base of the feeder. The plate would hold the seed to also the birds to eat it, and give them a place to perch. The lantern would be tuned upside down over-top of the sippy cup to protect the seed from the elements and make it pretty. I also loved that the cut-out in the lantern would allow some of the colour of the sippy cup to shine thought – especially when it was sunny outside.

My first step was to drill a hole in the middle of the bottom of the lantern. I’d use that hole and the hole in the sippy cup lid where the straw would normally go to bolt the two pieces together with an eye bolt. The eye bolt would also be used to hang the bird feeder. Bolting the lid of the sippy cup to the lantern would allow the bird feeder to be easily refilled by simply unscrewing the cup bottom from its lid. My next step was to drill a series of holes around the base of the sippy cup to allow the birdseed to escape. I also drilled a hole in the middle of the bottom of the cup – my plan was to bolt the base plate to the bottom of the sippy cup. All of these steps, while a little time consuming were fairly straightforward and I started to believe my plan would work.

The last part of the plan was to drill through the dollarstore plate to allow it to be bolted to the bottom of the cup. I’ve drilled through some ceramic tile before so while I knew it would take some time I was confident it could be accomplished. I was wrong. I drilled, and drilled, and drilled, and drilled some more. My neighbours must have thought I was nuts. Over an hour later, and I’d only just managed to get through the plate but I still had hours of drilling left to make the hole big enough for the bolt. I gave up, and decided to take a chance with gluing the plate to the cup. I picked the plate up out of the sink where I was was drilling (I was using a bit of water to keep the bit cool), and started to dry it off.bang

I could have cried. There I was, on a Sunday night, and I’d just dropped and smashed the plate I’d just spent over an hour drilling, and I didn’t have a spare. Class was on Tuesday so I had just 24 hours to get another plate and hope and pray that gluing the plate would work as I no longer had any time to come up with an alternate plan.

DIY BirdfeederThankfully it turns out that two-part epoxy works really well at attaching plastic and ceramic together and my DIY bird feeder ended up looking like I had imagined it would. More importantly my bird feeder was appreciated by my instructor, and I got an 18/20 on the project.DIY Birdfeeder.DIY Birdfeeder in the sun.What do you think? Have you ever made a DIY birdfeeder? How did you do it?

White and Gold Christmas Ornaments

Finishing school for the semester left me with a lot of free time that had previously been occupied with homework, so since I had so much fun making my Nutcracker ornaments I decided to do a bit more Christmas crafting. I again made something really easy, but I’m quite pleased with the way they turned out.

My crafting suppliesI started with some plain glass ball ornaments I bought at Michaels, some plain white paint, and a fine gold sharpie paint pen. The first step is to add some paint to the inside of the ball and swirl it around to make sure the inside is evenly coated. I used a teaspoon to spoon in the paint, but that was rather messy. I might use a turkey baster or something similar if I do this again. Thankfully the dripped paint cleaned off the glass really easily with a damp rag.

remove the metal hangers from the top of the glass balls

I then used an empty egg carton to hold the balls upside down to drain out the extra paint. Once your balls are painted leave them for at least 24 hrs to allow them to dry.turn the painted balls upside down to drain

Reattach the balls cap/hanger thingy and you’re ready for the final step. I set up my supplies in front of the TV and did this while watching the Holiday – one of my favourite Christmas movies. All you need to do is draw a pattern on the outside of your glass balls with the paint pen and then wait for the paint to dry. The pen I used was oil based so it took a few minutes to completely dry – be careful when you handle it – you don’t want to smudge your masterpiece.Decorate your balls with the metalic marker

I decided to use an art-deco inspired scalloped pattern on my balls, but you could draw anything you want. You could also use a couple of different coloured pens to change it up. I debated also using a silver pen, but in the end I liked the gold and white combo, and they worked well with my other white and gold Christmas ornaments from past years.Art DEco Chrsitmas Glass ball ornament

Art Deco Christmas Ball OrnamentArt Deco ball ornamentArt Deco Ball Ornament with nutcracker

My Christmas tree for 2013. I replaced some of my painted nutcrackers with the new glass balls.

My Christmas tree for 2013. I replaced some of my painted nutcrackers with the new glass balls.

What do you think? I quite like them, and I’m now imagining all sorts of other pattern and colour combinations to do for next year.

I’m a member of Para Paints blog crew, however this paint was received when I attended Blogpodium. the other supplies were purchased.

Painted Nutcracker Christmas Ornaments

For the past two years I’ve made my Christmas ornaments – in 2011 my tree was a simple bare branch with some mirrors and home-made felt doves, and in 2012 I pulled out my mini tree and strung a pompom garland and added some white snowflakes. This year I decided to again use my mini tree (although I seriously considered getting myself an adult sized tree – maybe I can find one for a huge discount after Christmas?) and rummaged around my storage locker for my ornament collection which has been steadily growing over the years. I was going to take the easy route and skip the DIYing this year and simply use what I had, but where’s the fun in that? All I needed was some inspiration.

One day I was roaming the aisles of my favourite craft store (aka Dollarama) when I spotted some plain wood nutcrackers in a couple of sizes and I knew what I was going to do. I bought a few packages in two sizes as well as a picture hanging kit and brought them home.Painted Nutcracker SuppliesMy first task was to attach hangers to the top of my nutcrackers. I used the eye screws from the picture hanging kit and screwed them into the top of each nutcracker after first drilling a pilot hole. That was honestly the hardest part of this project.Nutcrackers going for a swimAfter adding some temporary string I took my nutcrackers for a swim. Doesn’t the Para Paints Furby Fuzz (PF63) look a little like the Caribbean sea? I could have used a small paintbrush to paint the nutcrackers, but it seemed easier to simply dunk them, and then use the brush to remove the extra paint. Once they were thoroughly coated I hung them up to dry using some chopsticks wedged under some cookbooks which I think was a rather ingenious solution to figuring out how to dry them without the nutcrackers touching anything and ruining the paint.Drying my painted ornamentsOnce the nutcrackers were dry it was simply a matter of adding some silver string and then hanging them on my tree.Painted NutcrackerNutcrackers and some other ornamentsPainted Nutcracker and mirror ornamentClose up of my painted Nutcracker ornamentIt turns out I rather massively overestimated the number of nutcrackers that could fit on my wee little tree – while I put them all on for this shot I think the tree is better suited to about half as many. I guess I should take that as a sign I really need to get a ‘grown-up’ tree for next Christmas. My Decorated TreeAs a member of Para Paints Blog Crew I was supplied the paint in this project free of charge.