Take a Seat

A few months ago we were cleaning up the garage and found a bunch of things we had forgotten about (out of sight, out of mind!). You already saw the Phoenix sewing machine base makeover we did. Here’s what else we found:

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This was an old drafting chair that belonged to my uncle. I always intended to fix it up for my new craft studio.  I was thinking it might look great with a new leather seat painted with my Birdz of a Feather logo and I even posted a question on Hometalk for advice on how to do that (you guys are great!).

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Once my studio started coming together though, I went in a different direction. First Hubs sanded away years of rust and gave it a new coat of paint. Here it is looking like it’s break dancing!

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We added some new floor protectors onto the bottom to keep the metal from scraping the new hardwood floors. A hex nut holds them on from underneath.

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I took the vinyl plastic off the seat cushion. The foam was still in good shape so I added some batting on top of it to soften the edges before the final upholstery.

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Batting is easy to add and is an extra step you shouldn’t miss when you’re reupholstering. That’s because it smooths down the edges of the foam underneath the final fabric so you don’t see any lumps and bumps showing through.

I put the seat, face down right onto the batting and cut around it leaving a good amount of  extra to wrap around.

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I used a staple gun with a compressor to staple the batting all around the perimeter. Start at one end and then add a staple on the opposite side to keep it even. Then do the same on the right and left side. Fill in each quadrant with staples, going back and forth between opposite sides until complete.

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Trim off the excess batting.

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Nice and smooth!

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Here it is, ready for the final fabric:

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Follow the same steps described with the batting above to upholster the seat with your chosen fabric. If your fabric has a nap you might want to make note of where the holes are on the bottom, where the seat is fastened on, and make sure your fabric is fitted onto the seat in the direction your prefer. Make sure you don’t cover up the holes as you’re stapling the fabric on.

You can trim the fabric close to the staples to clean it up (I was so excited to see how the seat looks, that I forgot to trim it)! If you like, you can also cut a piece of plain cloth to staple on as a dust cover (I didn’t do that either).

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Once you’re all done, screw the seat onto the base taking care to use screws that are long enough to hold it securely, but not so long that they’ll come out the front and ruin your new upholstery!

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Here is the final reveal. Although it will be used with my cutting table, I photographed it by my desk area – which is much prettier to look at! Far more than the way it looks in my craft studio, every time I use it I’ll have fond memories of my uncle.  It’s a special piece and I’m happy I was able to breathe new life into it.

When you’re looking for inspiration on colour choices for the metal and upholstery, keep in mind where you’ll be using it. I love how the ‘new’ drafting chair compliments the colours in the carpet.

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If you’re curious about the Paint Chip Portrait shown above, click here for the how-to!

I restrained myself from using my logo for the seat of this chair and I’m so happy with the outcome. However, I DID use my logo to upcycle a clock as you can see below:

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I’ll also eventually add my logo to glass doors of the IKEA storage cabinets we built for the craft studio:

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It’s fun to be at the point where I’m just putting finishing touches on the craft studio!  If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook.

I’ll have two more chair makeovers coming soon. Follow my blog here or on Bloglovin’ to see those projects and more!

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The Making of a Craft Studio (VI): The Final Reveal!

A few weeks ago was moving day. With the help of hub’s brothers, all the heavy equipment was brought over from my old studio in my Mom’s basement. My craft studio is still not totally unpacked and done, but I couldn’t wait to show you the reveal. Here is what we started with in the basement….

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… and this is what the same vantage point into my new studio is like now! It’s the only expanse in the house that’s long enough to view the paint chip portrait I did of hubs. I think it’s only fitting to be displayed on the drivers side of his beloved beetle!

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Those cabinets with the VW beetle on the face started out life as temporary storage in our old kitchen. We never even got around to putting faces on the drawers! Luckily I saved them when we renovated the kitchen with the intent to repurpose them elsewhere. The transformation has made it my favourite highlight of the work we completed in my craft studio!

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The graphic is a picture of a VW beetle that hubs restored almost 30 years ago. A friend kindly helped us format and mount it on the drawer faces. Now it’s a real showstopper in my studio and amazing storage for my stash; repurposing at its finest!

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Repurposed kitchen cabinets + the old door from our cold storage room repurposed as a counter top make this storage unit a one of a kind piece!

The counter top had humble beginnings. It was also the utmost in upcycling because of its several lives before its final use!  You may remember it as the makeshift work top we fashioned out of sawhorses when we tiled the backsplash in the laundry room. It was originally the hollow core door to our cold room and we really put it through its paces when we renovated the basement. It turned out so well as a counter top that hubs even purchased another hollow core door and cut it down for the desk top right beside the storage cabinets.

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Old door from our cold room got upcycled into a countertop – but not before we used it to tile our laundry room and build the rest of the basement.

Here’s where the door was located in the basement originally. You can’t see it in the picture, but it even had a huge hole knocked into it (which I would assume the kids of the previous owners of the house did). The hole got cut off when we repurposed it.

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My studio is adjacent to our laundry room so there’s overflow from my craft room into that space too.

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Hubs just finished hanging our custom glass doors on the upper cabinets this weekend. It was so exciting to see it finally finished.

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The glass has a beautiful flowing pattern called everglade. It’s the same glass I used to create a new thermopane panel for our front door when we revamped our staircase. We cut the glass ourselves and installed it with a painted backing to match the walls. It’ll give me something pretty to look at when I’m not busy crafting – and hubs is doing the laundry!

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Speaking of pretty things to look at, I decided to display all my threads in a vintage oak glass display cabinet. I still haven’t unpacked all my fabric, so I’ll likely add some of that to the bottom shelf.

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The shelf beside the glass cabinet beautifully displays my collection of old irons and a few other vintage cast iron finds.

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I found the perfect glass jar to store my buttons on top of the glass display cabinet:

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The little card catalogue sitting on top was the very first one I ever owned. I loved it so much that I got a bit carried away and now I have three card catalogues of varying sizes. One of the larger ones is in the sewing room as you see later.

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The picture you see leaning against the wall won’t be there long; I just finished framing it for hubs’ man cave and ‘borrowed’ it, so I’ll have to sub in a different one.  I took the picture in the distillery district several years ago when I was taking a photography course.

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I have about 20 different pictures I’m in the process of framing and will likely rotate them between the man cave and my studio whenever I feel like a change. Here’s how I’ve already changed it:

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Across from the thread cabinet is an old metal sewing machine base hubs and I found on one of our antiquing excursions. Hubs  painted it and I paired it up with an old wooden board (I’m not really sure what it was in its former life, so if anyone knows, please do tell!).

For my last birthday, hubs repainted an old kerosene heater and commissioned a friend to paint a scene from our back garden around the front. I’ll be spending a lot of time in my craft studio during our long winter months, so it’s nice to have a reminder of our back garden to look forward to.

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I have a few old sewing machines to display also. I may mount them on individual shelves right above this on the wall if things aren’t getting too crowded.

Across from the laundry room is where my cutting table is located. The peg board shelf that’s leaning up against the wall was a vintage shelf upcycle project that hubs and I did a few months ago.

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I was planning on hanging the shelf above my serger, but it didn’t work out there because of the hanging pendant light. It’s a shame because now I’ll have to find another place for my upcycled clock that I found for only $1.50 and added my logo to using vinyl film.

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The perfect spot for the clock was on my pegboard shelf, but sadly I have no room to hang the shelf where it will be easy to access!

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We found the shabby chic highboy in the garbage and brought it home. It didn’t have any drawers, however it’ll be great flat storage for works-in-progress. I have a few print press letters and trinkets in the old printer drawer shown on top of it that I’ll eventually fill in as I unpack my things.

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Right beside the highboy I have an area for a desk which is simply the other hollow core door hubs cut down and painted for me (as you saw above). Underneath it, I’ve stored my air compressor.

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I’m still working on a vintage chair for the desk area. I’m also working on a drafting stool that used to belong to my uncle; I’ll use it for the cutting table. So far we’ve stripped the vinyl off the seat and painted the metal a tropical blue:

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I have plans to either upholster the seat in leather or strip off the foam and restore the wood underneath. Either way, I’ll be painting it with my birds of a feather logo (just like I did with the clock).

UPDATE – Nov 2016: The chair makeover is done! Check it out here.

When seated at my cutting table, I can see into the sewing room. I love having the feeling of open space instead of staring at a solid wall.

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The sewing room houses my card catalogue and there’s task lighting in addition to the potlights to light up the sewing and serging stations. The pendants are on a separate switch and are dimmable, but you can never have too much light in a craft studio! I was originally going to install some vintage green pendants but they weren’t wired and buying these RANARP ones from Ikea was the quick solution to getting it done fast. The beauty of it is that I can easily swap out the white shades for the green ones whenever I want to give me a winter/summer option (the shade is just held on by a clasp)!

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The card catalogue is from a local university. I’m so lucky to have it to store my smaller items.

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For larger storage, hubs built me an expanse of Ikea cabinets that runs the full length of the sewing room. If you’re interested in how I planned this storage solution, you can also see all the details of how I designed it specifically for my craft room using Ikea’s Pax Planner. Hubs also built me pocket doors to close off the sewing room which backs onto his man cave.

Above the doors is a vintage street sign we found on one of our antiquing treks while in the U.S. Where it hangs faces north and it just so happens that my MIL grew up on North street so the find was a perfect fit on so many levels – not to mention that it just looks great!

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I’m still undecided about what colour to paint the pocket doors! I’ve narrowed it down to four colours.  The orange is more ‘burnt’  than shown below and the blue is a historic colour with grey undertones. The other option is to paint them white to match the Ikea cabinets or maybe even a soft black, but those might be a bit too neutral for my taste! The colour has to work with the man cave too; any of these colours would work. Let me know which colour you’d choose in the comments section.

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I’ll likely add in a few throw rugs here and there; I might even have one custom made for the sewing room so I can freely roll the chairs around without dinging up the wood floors.

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Well, the craft studio is still a work in progress but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was my studio! I’m sure there will be some updates down the road as I finalize my storage options and unpack the rest of my things from the move.

At least now I can move my crafting off the dining room table and restore the rest of the house back into a somewhat better state of order!

If you’re interested in how I organized the craft room once all my stuff was moved in, click on the picture below for ideas on organization (or click here). Check out my new craft blog, Birdz of a Feather Craft, while you’re at it too!

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Now to finish the man cave, which is also a work in progress, so we can finally sit back and relax a little. The basement has been almost two years-in-the-making in total between the laundry room, craft studio and man cave. Hubs deserves a long break after all the work he’s put into turning it into a finished and usable living space! It’ll be nice to do nothing but sit on the couch in the man cave and eat popcorn this winter (with a little crafting thrown in for good measure).

If you’re interested in reading previous posts in the Making of a Craft Studio series, here they are:

  1. The Making of a Craft Studio– Calling All Crafters: Help Me Decide the Best Layout for my New Studio
  2. The Making of a Craft Studio (II)– Design Your Space Using Ikea’s Pax Planner!
  3. The Making of a Craft Studio (III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!
  4. The Making of a Craft Studio (IV) – Progress Report!

 

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Hometalk HQ Challenge: Plant Basket

When the Hometalk Headquarter decor challenge was announced, I contacted Cori to find out a little bit more about their renovation and learned that the new space would be wide open. What better way to decorate a new space than with greenery? The list of benefits from office plants include increased creativity, improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, increased engagement with work, etc., so how could I NOT include a decor item incorporating a plant into my final project?

Plants that are low maintenance make great office plants, and that includes plants that require relatively low amounts of water, so succulents are a great choice as long as they’re placed in a spot with lots of natural light!

Today I’ll be showing you how to make a basket to ‘house’ a planter filled with succulents.

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This project was ‘inspired’ by the Hometalk logo, but this time I didn’t recreate it literally as I did with my previous projects.  I upcycled a leftover piece of cut MDF from some centrepieces I created for a baseball-themed Bar Mitzvah.

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It struck me that the MDF ‘baseball diamond’ was house shaped, so I used the wooden base as a starting point for my basket. I used the same base as a backer for the vinyl record art I created for my VW Bug Keyholder. I love to upcycle so I NEVER throw anything away!

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Originally, we purchased the MDF from Home Depot. I painted the MDF base Hometalk’s signature blue and then marked 1/2″ increments around the perimeter. Hubs used a drill press to drill around the edge. I used a toothpick to clear out the holes and make sure that there was no debris left for the next step.

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To complete the rest of this project you’ll need: wooden craft dowels, twine, sisal rope, white glue, a glue gun, glue sticks and beads with a large enough hole to slip over the dowels. I also wanted to incorporate some of the signature blue into the woven element so I added in a strand of turquoise using some yarn I already owned.

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The mini dowels act as the ‘ribs’ of the basket. I added a dab of glue onto the bottom of each one and hammered them into the holes with a rubber mallet so they wouldn’t split. Let it dry over night, then you’re ready to begin weaving.

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I tied a knot and attached my twine/yarn combination to the dowel in the lower left corner and then started weaving in and out around the dowels. If you don’t want to make a basket, you could also turn this piece into a desk tray to hold various items and cut the dowels off at a lower height. Below you can see I was experimenting with placing a pen holder in the centre.

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Here’s a closeup of the twine/yarn combo. I think the blue coordinates beautifully with the base and adds a nice touch of colour to the finished product.

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Once you’re back to where you started at the corner, loop back around the last dowel so you can start weaving in the opposite direction. This will leave a gap at the corner, but don’t worry about it because it will get covered up from the inside with all the ends from the weaving.

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As you weave each row, push down on the twine to ensure the rows are level. Once the dowels were almost half woven , I added in two pieces of sisal rope to act as handles.

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Before I attached them to the basket, I took some thinner sisal and wound it around the cut edges so they wouldn’t unravel.

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Then I positioned them along the side and wove them into the starter row.

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Here’s a closer look at one of the handles from the inside of the basket. It’s not necessary to hot glue it to the sides because the weaving will hold it tight.

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On subsequent rows, you’ll need to position the handles either up or down in order to weave them in and secure them into the basket. You’ll get the feel for it as you go; I’d never woven before and once you get going, it becomes intuitive.

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Since you will be doubling back at the end of each row, take the opportunity to loop around both corner posts at least once to keep them together and strengthen the corner as shown below.

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I continued weaving until I used up all the twine and didn’t have enough to complete another row. Then I knotted the twine/yarn combo around the two corner posts where I originally started. Don’t cut the tail – you’ll need it later.

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To finish off the top edge I used a much thicker sisal rope. Because I wasn’t sure how much I would need to go around the entire perimeter, I unraveled the whole skein and folded it in the half in the middle. The picture below doesn’t show the corner dowel, it only demonstrates the fold of the rope, however I actually looped it onto the same dowel I initially started with in the lower left corner of the basket.

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Starting from left to right, bring one strand around the first dowel and criss-cross the other strand right over it in the opposite direction around the same dowel as shown in the picture below. Tighten as you go to keep it consistent, but don’t pull so tight that you skew the positioning of dowels (or worse yet, break one)! This rope feature will give you a braided look along the edge.

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When the edging is complete, bring both pieces of the rope to the inside of the corner as shown five pictures below and follow the instructions under ‘finishing off the edging’ to secure it to the inside of the basket.

To finish off the top of each dowel, dab a bit of white glue onto a bead and insert it onto the top of the dowel. You can also use hot glue if you’re careful not to drip it everywhere! I bought a variety of different coloured beads from the dollar store; if you want to switch up your decor you could even forgo the glue and switch out the beads whenever the mood strikes. The weaving around the top is tight so it’s not going to go anywhere; the beads are just to give it a finished look.

As you can see below, not every dowel is exactly the same length, so just take a mini hacksaw and trim off any that are too long and protruding past the bead.

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I stopped weaving the handles in before I got to the top of the basket because I thought it might look good if they just flopped to the sides, but when I was done I changed my mind. I used the bodkin shown below and some of the turquoise yarn to secure the handles to the sides of the basket so they would stand up better.

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Once you’re done with the decorative stitching, place a dab of hot glue over the knots of the yarn on the inside of the basket to hold it securely and keep it from loosening over time.

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Finishing off the Edging

At the corner, bring the double strands of rope to the inside of the basket. Remember that tail of twine/yarn you saved from the main weaving? Use it to wrap around the two pieces of the rope to secure it all together. When you get to the end, secure the twine with a dab of hot glue underneath the rope where it can’t be seen.

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I used a clip to help secure the twine while I was determining the length to cut it and reaching for the glue gun. It acts as a second pair of hands.

Eyeball the length of the interior corner from the top of the basket to the base and apply a dab of hot glue to join the two pieces of rope near the bottom. Also apply hot glue just above where you will be cutting the rope to keep it from fraying (glue along the inside where it won’t be seen). Cut the rope even with the bottom of the basket and then secure it to the corner base with a dab of hot glue (again where it won’t be seen).

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I didn’t glue along the seam itself: I only glued the rope at the bottom as I didn’t want glue oozing out through the weave of the basket!

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Here’s how the rope looks from the inside of the basket secured to the inside corner. If you wish, you can take a pair of scissors and trim away some of the longer ‘flyaway’ strands of the sisal to tidy it up.

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I didn’t add the ‘Inspire‘ wording to the basket as shown below, but if I was using this as a desk tray I might add it in to coordinate with the earlier pieces I created for the Hometalk HQ decor challenge. Of course, the handles wouldn’t be necessary to add if you were making this as a tray.

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Here’s a look at the final basket on its own.

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I used a planter filled with succulents that I already owed to demonstrate how pretty it would be planted up.

If I had more time I would definitely make a custom hypertufa planter to mimic the shape of the inside of Hometalk’s logo – and fabricate it in white concrete! It just so happens that I have a DIY tutorial on how to construct a hypertufa planter that you can use to accessorize this basket if you want to take it that one step further.

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The possibilities are endless for this project: you could make this basket in any shape your heart desires. I already have special plans to make a thank-you gift, and for my own craft studio I’m going to weave a basket using my Birdz of a Feather logo so I can use it for thread storage. I’ll update you on both projects once they’re done.

Well, that concludes my ‘Inspire’ series for Hometalk’s HQ. It’s time for me and Hubs to turn our attention to putting the finishing touches on my craft studio. I’m looking forward to reclaiming our dining room table again and to bringing you even more projects once my new craft space is up and running!

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If you enjoyed this project, please pin and post on Facebook. To see the other projects in the ‘Inspire‘ series created just for Hometalk, click the links below.

Hometalk HQ Challenge: Inpire-Themed Office Decor

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Cubicle Wall Art – How to Print 8″ x 10″ Art Canvasses with a Printer

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Don’t forget to follow me here on Birdz of a Feather or on Bloglovin’!

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Hometalk HQ Challenge: Inspire-Themed Office Decor

When Cori announced that Hometalk was redecorating its New York offices and was looking for decor items, it was game on! She put a challenge out to the community to come up with DIY creations that would inspire. She even added an optional caveat to incorporate some element of Hometalk such as the teal colour, the word Hometalk or the logo.

I wanted to create something that would inspire the staff as much as the site inspires me to be creative so I took the challenge to heart. Afterall, our office space is a home away from home (or closer than that if you’re lucky enough to work at home).

I came up with three different, but easy, office inspired decor projects that staff could use to embellish their own personal office space – with form and function in mind! I upcycled several items I already had and sourced the rest from the dollar store.

I chose to use Hometalk’s logo in these designs, but you’re only limited by your own creativity and these can be adapted to any shape!

Project #1: Test Tube ‘Inspire’ Flower Arrangement

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Who doesn’t want to add a little beauty in their office space in the form of fresh flowers? This project uses the following items:

Supplies:

  1. A 9 3/4″ square cork trivet (I got mine at Ikea)
  2. Part of a binder clip – or 3M strips – as a hanging device
  3. Those little plastic tubes you get with floral arrangements (courtesy of hubs who buys me flowers – a lot!)
  4. Sheet of acetate
  5. Large vinyl coated eye hooks (1 – 3/4″)
  6. Paint (teal and white)
  7. Glue gun & glue
  8. Push pin

I actually did the first two projects at the same time because they were cut to two different sizes and I was able to use the extra cork from the smaller project as the centre of the larger one.

Start by scaling the hometalk logo. The large one is scaled to fit an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper and the small one is scales to 6 1/2″. Draw both the outer and inner outline and cut the paper out. Trace the logo onto the cork with a pen (I traced it onto the back of the cork, but you could do it from the front instead).

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Here you can see the size difference between the first two projects:

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Cut the cork pieces out, Hubs used a bandsaw to cut most of the pieces for me, but I also used a dollar store fine tooth hack saw on the centre section (it was slow but worked just fine).

Take a piece of 100 grit sandpaper and round over any square cut edges to match the rest of the trivet. I find that a beveled sanding sponge is also useful to help round over the edges.

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Paint the outer piece blue and the centre piece of cork you cut out of scrap in white paint. You can either spray or brush it on with a foam brush.

Print out the word ‘inspire’, place it under a sheet of acetate and place a self healing cutting mat under your work. Then cut out the stencil with an X-acto knife and position it over the cork. Using white paint on  a very dry brush, pounce it over the lettering to keep the paint from bleeding under the stencil. If you do get some bleeding, you can touch it up with a fine brush with the blue. I also outlined it with a fine black marker to give it some definition (as you can see, I tested it first on the cork with my initial which will be hidden later with another piece of cork!)

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For the centre, figure out the positioning for the eye hooks and pierce starter holes with a toothpick. Flip it over and add double face tape onto the back. Peel off the tape and position on the front of the larger piece of cork. Using the starter holes, screw in the eye hooks and position them so that they are pointing to one side. You need to have this double layer of cord to accommodate the depth of the screw, otherwise it will poke out the back! Add the plastic test tubes to rest in the eye hooks.

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Squeeze to remove one half of a binder clip arm and hot glue onto the back of the cork at the top to act as a hanging loop (you can glue a scrap piece of felt or foam over the ends to prevent it from scratching the surface it will be mounted to). You can then use a push pin to attach the hanging loop to your cubicle wall! Alternatively, you could use 3M strips if mounting to a wall.

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All that’s left is to go out a buy a few flower stems to complete it.  Lift out the tubes, remove the tops and fill the tubes with water. Cut the stems and insert through the top first and then pop the top back onto the tube; close tightly.

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Project #3:  Business Card and Post-It Note OrganizerHometalk HQ Challenge 113_BOF Inspire.jpg

Supplies:

  1. Post-it notes
  2. Cork Trivet
  3. Cassette tape
  4. White foam
  5. Part of a binder clip – or 3M strips – as a hanging device
  6. Double face tape
  7. Glue gun & glue
  8. Paint (teal only)
  9. Push pin

Follow the steps above to cut and paint your piece. The middle section of this one is made of white foam instead of cork. You can tell I’ve had this foam for a while because that’s when items at the dollar store really did cost a dollar – not $1.25 or $2.00 or even $3.00!

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Can you guess what the business card holder is? It’s one half of an old tape cassette plastic shell!

Open the cassette and take out the tape and paper. The two pieces of the ‘hinge’ can be separated giving you a pocket piece to hold some of your business cards.

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Position the tape cassette tape case under the white foam. Once happy with the positioning, double face tape it to the cork. Apply double face tape to the foam and position it onto the cork and over the top portion of the cassette tape case to hide the edge.

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Once that’s done, you can add some sticky notes to the centre. If you can find white to blend in with the foam, all the better (I just used what I had on-hand). Hubs used a chop saw to cut the bottom of a regular stack of Post-it notes into the shape of a house to mimic the Hometalk Logo. I only did this for demonstration purposes and I wouldn’t do it again: paper flew everywhere and it was hard to clamp so probably not the safest thing to cut. We made sure we were not cutting the top side with the glue or we’d be cutting away all the adhesive!

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Add the other half of the binder clip arm as you did in the first project and hang. You can velcro a pen to the side if you wish, as shown in the third project below.

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If you like, you can also add some scissors by attaching another cup hook to hang them. The backer board shown below is made of wood and I didn’t end up using it for this particular project – or adding the scissors – because I went with a smaller size. As an option, I could have completed this one and added dry erase film as the white centre to make this into a dry erase message board.

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For my own office in my craft room-in-progress, I would use cork in a round shape and fashion my trademark Birdz of a Feather logo into a message board using chalk board paint on one side and dry erase film on the other. The options are endless!

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Project #2: Desk Top Dry Erase ‘Inspire’ To-Do Board

Supplies:

  1. Dollar store frame
  2. Card stock
  3. Printer with colour ink
  4. Dry erase pen
  5. Self-sticking velcro

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The last project is a dry erase to-do board for the desk top. All you need is a 4″ x 6″ frame from the dollar store with glass that slides out, a dry erase marker, some card stock, a printer and self adhesive velcro.

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I used illustrator to design the to-do list. I added ‘inspire’ down the side and made it transparent so it would fade into the background but still be noticeable.

If you want to print your own Hometalk to-do list/dry erase board, I’ve attached the pdf for you to make your own! Dry Erase Board Printout

Once printed, cut the card to 4″ x 6″ with a paper cutter.

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Add a small piece of self adhesive velcro onto the dry erase marker and the side of the picture frame stand so you can keep them together (rough side goes on the frame). Slip the cardstock behind the glass, write our your to-do list and you’re ready to tackle your day.

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I still have that piece of wooden board left that I showed earlier and have come up with a few more office decor projects. I won’t divulge what they are just yet; you’ll just have to follow my blog if you’re curious to see them once they’re posted!

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At Birdz of a Feather, we’re feathering the nest… one room at a time. If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook.

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Succulent ‘Seat Cushion’: Hypertufa DIY Planter

I have to say that hypertufa ‘seat cushions’ are my all time favourite DIY upcycle project for the garden! You may recall the chair we upcycled for our back garden and turned into a planter, but the hypertufa planter in that project was store bought. When we stumbled upon a discarded chair at the side of the road last week, hubs and I couldn’t wait to try making our own hypertufa planter from scratch for the first time!

At first glance, we both thought the chair was cast iron, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a plastic imitation. Hubs and I loaded it into the car; luckily we grabbed it before anyone else did!

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Since the middle of the seat was cracked, it was perfect for our purpose.

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Once we got our newest find home hubs punched out the rest of the middle of the seat.

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We measured the circumference of the circle to determine the size of the bowls we would need to act as a mold for the hypertufa:

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We found a variety of metal bowls at value village.

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The two larger ones were going to be just right for the mold.

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Below, I’ve documented our first attempt ever at making hypertufa so you can learn from our trial and error! Making hypertufa is a fairly easy DIY, however it’s a long process to perfect it. It could take anywhere from four to six weeks due to the curing time needed and the time it takes to leech out the lime contained in the portland cement so it’s a safe container to house plants. Since we started ours on the July 1st weekend, it won’t be ready to plant until August – which is nearing the end of our growing season! If you make your hypertufa in the fall instead, you can let the weather work its magic and naturally leech the planter over the winter. It will be ready for plants at the start of the next season and you won’t loose out on growing time.

To create the hypertufa bowl, you will need:

  1. Mixing pails (we used two, but you can get away with only one)
  2. Water
  3. Peat moss
  4. Perlite
  5. Portland cement
  6. Plastic cup or container to measure all four ingredients (1 part of each)
  7. Paint stick to mix
  8. Rubber mallet
  9. Gloves
  10. Sheet of plastic
  11. Cooking spray (acts as a release agent)
  12. Colorant (optional – if you want to color your mix). We wanted the bowl to blend in with the chair so we added in a black liquid colorant.

We don’t mind storing bags of the three main ingredients (peat, cement and perlite) because we’ll likely make more hypertufa. However, because you’ll need only a bit of each item, if this is your first project, beg and borrow a few cups of each ingredient from family or friends who might have some extra to spare. We were able to get some peat moss from my MIL so only had to buy the portland cement and perlite.

Find a sheltered spot to work in – out of direct sunlight and wind – to keep your hypertufa from drying out too fast. We worked in the garage and laid down a sheet of plastic onto the floor in case we had any spills. Here you can see the bag of peat moss. We sifted through to remove any large pieces of debris we didn’t want in our final mix.

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Peat Moss

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Perlite and Portland Cement

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Cement colorant and cooking spray

Don some gloves and spray the inside of the larger bowl and the outside of the smaller bowl with the cooking spray (make sure you get the rim too).

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Set the bowls aside.

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You’ll need to measure out one part of each ingredient. Note that we measured out one part water and put it into the first plastic mixing pail, but it probably makes more sense to add the water into the dry ingredients so you can control the consistency better! Next time we make hypertufa, we’ll mix all the dry ingredients first and add the water into the same pail.

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In the second pail we mixed all the dry ingredients together thoroughly: one part each of portland cement, perlite and peat moss. If you didn’t previously sift through your peat moss, you might want to remove some of the larger chunks of debris now to make a smoother mix.

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Once the dry ingredients were mixed, we poured them into the bucket of water and mixed thoroughly but as I said earlier you can add the water directly into the dry ingredients instead. That way, you can control the amount of water you add. Depending on moisture and humidity, you may have to add a little more or less water to get the right consistency.

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We forgot to add our liquid colourant to the water before adding the dry ingredients so ended up adding it in after. If your colourant is dry to begin with, however, add it into the dry ingredients instead.

Our mixture was the consistency of dry cottage cheese. I’ve seen wetter, more pourable mixtures on other sites, but my preference was to leave it just hydrated enough to pack.

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Pack the wet mixture into the bowl and distribute evenly. I tried to keep the thickness to about an inch.

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Insert the second bowl on top and centre it. Continue to add mixture between the two bowls until the mixture is level at the top. Tap the sides with the rubber mallet to release air bubbles.

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You’ll need to weight down the top bowl while it’s drying so it stays centred. We happened to have gravel, but you could add rocks, sand or anything heavy that will ensure it all stays put.

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Lowes has a great video you can watch that will show you all the steps I’ve described above.  They also have some great suggestions for adding texture to the planter that we’d love to try next time.

First Stage of Curing

How long a hypertufa project takes to dry will depend on the size and thickness of your project, the humidity and the temperature. It will probably take anywhere from 2 – 4 days for the first cure. Just like every project hubs and I try for the first time, it’s all about experimenting and learning from your mistakes to gain expertise.

We placed the whole thing into a plastic shopping bag, sealed it tight and left it to cure for 24 hours on a level surface. You could use a black garbage bag, or plastic wrap, but make sure the plastic is tightly sealed to retain moisture and help it dry slowly.

After 24 hours, removed the inner bowl, then wrapped it back up again in the plastic and set aside for another 24 hours.

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On the second day, we conducted a fingernail test to see if we could scratch off any of the surface. If you can, seal it up and wait another 12 – 36 hours. If you can’t then release the outer mold carefully; it’s still really fragile!

Since the project is still damp, you might want to wear gloves when you handle it.

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As you can see above, we had to tap around the outside of the bowl to help it release. It was stubborn though, so hubs resorted to running a straight blade around the inside of the rim to loosen it.

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That did the trick, however we had it perched on top of an overturned bucket and it slipped and fell to the ground! In retrospect it would have been better to release it right on the ground so it didn’t have far to fall. Luckily it remained in one piece!

Here it is unmolded; we couldn’t wait to test the fit in the chair itself and we were happy with the results!

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Once unmolded, you’ll be wrapping the hypertufa back up in plastic again but you’ll have a decision to make on how you want to cure it.

Second Stage of Curing

This stage lasts about three – four weeks; the longer and more slowly it can cure in a moist environment, the stronger it will be in the end. You can cure your project either in direct sunlight or in a shaded area; either one will work but a cooler environment will take longer to cure. If in a shaded area, open the bag every once in a while and mist the surface to keep it moist then reseal the bag.

If you can place the hypertufa where it will receive direct sunlight you won’t have to mist it periodically. Our back patio faces south, so we left it there on top of a bench. Because the bag is sealed, it creates a humid environment. The heat will cause a lot of moisture to be released from the cement, which condenses on the inside of the sealed black plastic bag. This creates a water supply that will help keep your object properly hydrated while it’s curing.

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Just When You Think You’re Done!

After a month or so of curing, you’d think you’d be done, but you’re not! The portland cement contains lime that can be alkaline to plants so it should be leached out – either through a process of soaking it over the course of 3 days or by leaving it out in the elements to leach naturally before it’s planted (that’s where making your planter in the fall has its advantages).

To leach the hypertufa of lime, soak it in a container of water. Change the water each day for 3 days, then it will be safe for plants. If your project is too big, you can hose it down a few times a day for five days.

If you prefer to let nature take its course, leave the planter outside for one or two months.

Don’t forget to drill some drainage holes into the bottom of the hypertufa planter. We used a 3/8″ bit. You can further finesse it by sanding any rough edges smooth, but we left ours ‘rustic’ because the succulents will eventually hide the edges.

They say that patience is a virtue, but in the interest of time, and since our hypertufa planter won’t be completely cured until the end of the planting season, I’ll leave you with a reveal shot of our roadside chair find as it looks with the existing succulents from our back garden – through the magic of Photoshop:

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Depending on the size of your container, when you plant your hypertufa you can probably get away with five to eight succulents as they will spread and grow in with time. I try to leave about an inch of spacing between each one.  If you’re the instant gratification type, you can pack them in, but I like to give the plants an opportunity to get bigger and reproduce on their own.

Add a good base of soil into the bottom of the hypertufa before adding the succulents so the roots have something to grow into. The succulents should also sit above the rim of the pot so the leaves can’t rot in the soil.

I love it when succulents drape over the edge of the container and the arrangement has an assortment of different heights as shown here in the post I wrote on creative planter ideas for the garden:

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However I’ve always liked the look of having them mounded at relatively the same low height  – it just looks more lush and cushion-like to me……….

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As compared to this arrangement with staggered heights which hides more of the chair detail:

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For all our planters, the majority of succulents are hardy so they will last over our harsh winters. A properly cured and leeched hypertufa can withstand harsh winter temperatures without cracking. We’ve left our store bought hypertufa out during the winter for many years without fail, however we also sometimes store it in the garage until spring and bring it back out. Either way, the succulents seem to be happy.

If you love embellishing your garden, I hope you’ll try this project; please pin and share on Facebook!

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For other inspiring gardening posts, check out the following:

Add Some ‘Zen’ to Your Back Garden with a Water Feature

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Create a Small Water Feature to Add Curb Appeal!

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Building Trellises and Privacy Screens

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How does your garden grow?

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Low Maintenance Gardening (Part 1): Dry Creek Bed

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Low Maintenance Gardening (Part 2): Rock Garden

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Jewellery Cabinet Makeover Reveal

My husband and I have a soft spot for the runts of the litter. No, I’m not talking about puppies, I’m talking about trash that no one would even think to touch let alone refurbish. When hubs spotted this old tool cabinet in the garbage, he had to try to save it!

At first I thought I’d make it into a craft cabinet, but then I had a better idea! I needed somewhere to store my silver jewellery so it wouldn’t tarnish before I had a chance to wear it. This cabinet provided the perfect solution – with a lot of body filler, sanding, a few coats of primer and paint, plus some special finishing touches, we upcycled it into a jewellery storage cabinet!!

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Here’s how it started out:

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It looked even worse on the inside!

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Here’s a closer look at the detail once hubs did his magic on this sad looking piece!  We added some modern handles to the drawers:

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We made it into a rolling cart of sorts by mounting wheels onto the right side for mobility while legs on the left side help keep it stationary when it’s in place. We also added a handle on the opposite side to act as a grab bar so it could be lifted and re-positioned. The trick to keeping the cart level is in making sure that the legs and wheels are exactly the same height.

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Wheels on the right side allow it to be moved with the grab bar on the opposite side

Hubs removed the wooden knobs and replaced most of the hardware including the door locking mechanism so we had a key. To get the cabinet open, you have to use the key to release the right side of the door. The left side can then be opened by reaching in and squeezing the catch to release it.  Being able to hide away the key provides some peace of mind in keeping my jewellery collection secure when we occasionally have strangers in the house.

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Clockwise from left: inside view of door lock, outside view of keyed lock, door catch, gravity door holder, roller catch

Here’s the before and after transformation of the outside of the cabinet:

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However, the inside of the two doors is where the transformation really gets interesting. Hubs spray painted metal panels with a durable car paint and then installed them with screws to the insides of each door:

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I purchased a bunch of high quality earth magnets:

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Then I purchased some resealable plastic pouches in two sizes to organize my stash. I made sure that the smaller size would easily fit into the larger bags so I could combine the two if necessary.

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Large pieces such as necklaces go into the larger plastic bags and then small pieces, such as earrings, in the smaller ones. If I have a matching set, I just double up by inserting the small bag of earrings into the bag holding the larger item to keep them all together!

For silver jewellery especially, this resealable bag system is ideal. Who wants to spend time polishing? Not me. If you squeeze the air out of the bag before it’s closed, your silver pieces will stay tarnish free – just be sure to close the bag tight!

I can easily see what I have when I open up the doors and the magnets make it a cinch to keep it all organized.

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Tarnish free!

As you may have seen in my previous post, the inside space was pretty bare so we added a shelf for more storage to make the piece even more functional.

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With the addition of the shelf, I now have extra storage space for purses and a few overflow shoeboxes too.

Hubs has a way of turning idioms on their end: maybe you really can make a silk purse out of sow’s ear afterall?  I certainly was doubtful we’d be able to pull off something useful from a tool cabinet that looked as bad as this one did to start!

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We temporarily had this cart sitting in our office until I decided where I wanted to place it permanently. Now that it’s in place, I’ll complete it with a mirror on the wall above it.  The mirror will add additional convenience – allowing me to see how my jewellery looks when I try it on so I can immediately return any pieces I swap out back into the cabinet.

If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook!

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The next time we made over a cart, we made it easy on ourselves and started with a brand new Ikea Stenstorp to create this kitchen storage hack:

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Muskoka Chair Challenge at the Ontario Science Centre

Who doesn’t love to relax in a Muskoka chair (or Adirondack chair as our neighbours to the south call it)!  Several years ago, the Ontario Science Centre (OSC) sponsored a challenge asking for willing participants to create a unique Muskoka chair that would appeal to their visitors during the summer months.

OSC aims to inspire a lifelong journey of curiosity, discovery and action to create a better future for the planet. But all that is rounded out by a downright fun experience when you visit! Hubs and I have racked up so many great and memorable experiences each time we go, that we jumped at the chance to team up and give the chair challenge a go.  We had a blast lending our creative talent to designing one of the chairs that would ultimately be displayed around the grounds at OSC!

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A science connection was naturally something to consider, however it also needed to be comfortable to sit in, withstand the elements that an outdoor chair would be exposed to and withstand the attention and affection (aka wear and tear) that their visitors would bestow upon it!

Each team was given a dissembled chair in a box, and the rest was up to us. We started by sanding all the pieces of wood that made up the chair.

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Rather than do the obvious thing and incorporate a science theme, I decided to take a different approach to the challenge; one that no one else would think of.  I found out a long time ago through a friend, and many visitors are probably unaware of this, but did you know that all the exhibits at OSC are conceived, designed, built and finished right on-site by OSC staff?  Yes indeed, it takes the collaboration of many people to create the interesting, informative and interactive exhibits that are on display — and they do it in a way that is as green as possible!

Armed with this knowledge, I wanted our Muskoka chair to pay tribute to some of the people who are ‘behind the scenes’ in Exhibit Fabrication: namely the designers, wood workers and finishers.

Since every good concept must start with a plan, I knew that part of developing great experiences for their visitors would start with a ‘blueprint’ and hoped there would be extras hanging around and gathering dust. Why not découpage some of these to our chair?  By recycling them, we could pay homage to all the exhibit fabricators while being environmentally friendly.  I guess you could say that we turned blueprints ‘green’!

I was able to secure extra blueprint copies of the Living Earth exhibit –  a fitting theme as every element we used was recycled and/or earth friendly.

I lined up all the slats, and positioned  the blue prints over them so they would all read perfectly once assembled.  When I was happy with the layout, I ran the side of a pencil around each outline to ‘score it’ so I could faintly see where to cut each piece. I didn’t use the pencil lead because I didn’t want to erase any remaining marks after they were cut, but  I did use it to lightly number the back of the paper and corresponding wood so the order wouldn’t get mixed up. Then I glued the blueprints to the wood using a 1:2 mixture of water and glue to thin it out. When all the slats were finished I moved onto the arms (seen below):

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Because of the size of the chair, I had to overlap several blueprints.  By laying it all out first to visualize it, I was able to come up with an interesting idea for the back of the chair! I found that one of the blueprints in the set had a circular pattern rendered on it. It turned on a lightbulb: why don’t we incorporate the Science Centre logo into the design in recognition of the graphics department?

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I love that OSC’s logo connects in such a way that it forms a trillium: the provincial flower of Ontario since 1937!

When it came to fabricating the logo, I didn’t want to completely mask the beauty of the blueprints (I also wanted to create a peek-a-boo effect with the trillium) so I came up with the idea of cutting out the circles from recycled coloured tissue paper.  When découpaged over the blueprint you could still make out the details through the tissue and once sprayed with a clear finish it was even better; it worked like a charm!

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Tissue paper OSC logo superimposed onto bluepint

Next, we upcycled an old wooden shipping pallet and brought it to life as a footstool and cup holder to accompany our chair (an ode to OSC wood workers). Each piece was sanded smooth, as we did with the chair, to better accept the découpage treatment.

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Salvaged shipping pallet turned into slats and sides for footstool

I wanted each slat of our footstool to be representative of some of OSC’s exhibit halls – to tie in the displays that at one time all started out as blueprints! I used one blueprint and overprinted it with seven of the exhibit hall names.  Since the width of the footstool was wider than I was able to print, I added in the red, blue and green tissue paper once again to make up the width.

The project took up space on our dining room table and hubs’ workship for several weeks, but it was well worth it because we had so much fun while we worked on it together!

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Footstool slats made from an upcycled shipping pallet

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Creating the pattern for the cup holder

Hubs glued and clamped together two pieces of the pallet to gain enough width for the top of the cup holder, then cut out the shape with a jigsaw.

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The finished cup holder came together nicely; who would’ve guessed it was made from a pallet?

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We wanted a pop of colour to tie the cup holder into the OSC logo. Hubs tested a few stains and ended up choosing a red dye for the accent colour.

Our chair, footstool and cup holder were protected from the elements with water based varnish and dye, reducing the emission of Volatile Organic Compounds (VoCs) into the air  – and recognizing the contribution of OSC’s finishing department.

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We sprayed all the pieces individually  and then screwed the whole chair together. Next, we assembled the footstool and mounted the cup holder we fashioned from the pallet.

Before we gathered in a room at the Science Centre for the throwdown,  hubs made a last minute purchase in the gift shop. He found a coin bank in the shape of a can with OSC’s logo on it and purchased it to top off the cup holder as a final touch.

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All the submissions were fascinating as you’ll see below. We placed second and all the chairs were put out on display where visitors to OSC could admire and enjoy them!  Many years have passed since this challenge though, so I don’t know if any of these chairs are still on display.

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The winning chair was this Breathe Look Dream chair which featured a living roof!  It was stained using elements such as grass, steel wool, carrots, tea, turmeric etc., combined with vinegar and seeped in a mason jar. The canopy used birch wood felled in the ice storm and wood framing from a demolished deck. The plant trays used in the green roof were left over from annuals planted by City of Toronto workers.  Best of all, the plant materials in the gutters of the chair were curated to repel mosquitoes: Basil, Rosemary, Citronella, Bee Balm, Marigold, Lavendar and Catmint.

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The Tensegri Chair boasted a halo water misting unit and a human powered cooling fan (using a crank on the chair arm); all welcome features for those hot and humid Toronto summer days!

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Another cooling apparatus chair had a drink cooler and an adjustable canopy shaped like a leaf; it was a real head turner!

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Here’s the Solarific chair – which protects from the sun and harnesses its energy too. Along with the solar lights, the pencils decorating the arms absorb the solar rays to produce a glow-in-the-dark effect at night.

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I loved the message on the seat marked by the words “Your Curious Belongs Here” (an OSC motto). Cute!

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The OSC Camp chair sings the praises of summer day camp. OSC  has been keeping young minds happy and active in the summer with a week of interactive discovery where kids can make new friends, take part in exciting experiments and embark on unforgettable science adventures! I wish I could’ve gone there when I was a kid!

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In retrospect, the only thing I would do differently is to spray a few more layers of topcoat onto the entire chair. The trick to making this endure the elements better is in spraying many light coats of water-based varnish to seal in the paper and keep it from lifting. Unfortunately we ran out of time before we could build up the topcoat, so it did suffer a bit once it was put on display.  If I were to create a découpage chair for my own home, I would situate it outside where it wouldn’t be directly exposed to the elements – like a 3-season porch or under an awning.

One day when I get around to making a chair for our own use at home, I think it would be fun to incorporate something personal to us. I would enlarge either a layout of our own house, a satellite view of our street or even an vintage map of our neighbourhood for the découpage element. Maybe I’d even use my Birdz of a Feather logo as the tissue paper element on the back of the chair 🙂

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Although these chairs were designed specifically for the Ontario Science Centre, you could easily adopt some of these ideas to make a chair for your own home; the ideas are endless!

Speaking of endless, there’s a huge variety of experiences for every age to take in at OSC; it is more than a great place for kids! If you’re ever in the Toronto area (or just haven’t visited for a while), you should definitely  check out what’s on at the Ontario Science Centre and drop in! I know that Hubs and I are due for a visit soon 🙂

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