Category Archives: Upcycling

Make a Storage Box Out of Recycled Mat Board

 

storage box out of recycled mat board

When matting artwork, it’s common to have a lot of mat board scraps left over. I had a number of scraps that were large enough to make small open top storage boxes. If you would like to make one similar, here is how I did it.

You will need:
5 square mat board pieces of equal size
An assortment of collage papers
An assortment of tools for decorating paper – I used stencils, rubber stamps, paint, printmaking ink, markers and colored pencils
Yes Paste
Clean scrap paper
Bone folder or Squeegee multipurpose tool
Old credit card or your favorite glue-spreading tool
Acrylic medium
Paint brush
Tim Holtz Idea-ology Metal Box Corners – they come in a package of 8 and you’ll need 4 corners per box
Pencil
Awl
Chunk of old wood
Metal corner braces
Old belts or strips of leather or faux leather
Metal brads

First take your five mat board pieces and decorate both sides with collage papers combined with the paper embellishing techniques of your choice. Use water resistant inks because you’ll be applying acrylic medium over your collages later. Yes Paste is my favorite glue for sticking down large pieces of paper that have to look flat and free of wrinkles. I apply the glue with a credit card to get a nice thin layer then after laying down the paper piece I’m gluing I put a clean piece of scrap paper on top and burnish with a bone folder or Squeegee tool to get a tight, flat seal.

While working on this project at Perennial, another member asked me where I get my paper ephemera. The short answer to that question is that I’ve been collecting papers since the year I first got turned on to making collages – 1985! A more involved answer is to suggest some of the following sources of interesting papers:

  • Old magazines and catalogs.
  • Is someone you know doing some major cleaning? Offer to help in exchange for keeping interesting papers. This is a good way to get old graphic design samples, newspapers, books, maps, photos, negatives, stamps, envelopes, tickets – all kinds of neat stuff.
  • Purchase some reproduction ephemera from a craft supplier.
  • Save your art and paper craft “failures” and experiments. Whenever you have extra paint or ink, add a little more embellishment to your scraps until you get something you like. Toward the end of this article are examples of some great results I got using this method – Fun With Stencils.
  • Check thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales, flea markets, etc.
  • Shop a teachers resource recycling center like Leftovers, etc.
  • Make your own with any paper technique that you like, or a combination of techniques, such as rubber stamping, stenciling, painting, printing, making paste paper, rubbings, handmade paper, computer printouts, cyanotypes or drawing.
  • Use the decorative paper pads commonly sold for scrapbooking. There are designs for every taste and decorating style.

When you are satisfied with your designs, brush both sides of your mat board pieces with acrylic medium for durability and let dry.

Next start assembling your box from the bottom up, using the box corner hardware and the metal brads included in the package. Use a pencil to mark where the holes go and punch out the holes with an awl. An old chunk of wood is handy for protecting your work surface from the awl point. Be carful with the awl and aim it away from yourself while pressing down and through. Push brads through holes and spread the tines from the inside of the box to assemble the four bottom corners.

At this point the top four corners are loose and flapping so you’ll need something to stabilize them and keep your box shaped like a cube. At Perennial I rummaged through the spare hardware bins and found a couple of metal corner braces which worked wonderfully when attached with brass brads. There were only two available so I looked for something else for the other corners. You can buy metal corner braces at a hardware store and use them on all four top corners if you like.

Storage box with pieces of old belts on the corners
Storage box with pieces of old belts attached to some of the corners with metal brads

At Perennial there is a box of old belts and belts have holes! Idea! I selected some to cut down and use on the other corners. Attached with brads, they work well with the “grunge” look of my boxes. If you lack old belts, you can use a variety of materials that can be cut into strips and have holes poked in it – plastic from old lids, scraps of faux leather, scraps of real leather, thin metal – what do you have lying around that you want to try?

How to recycle candle scraps and stubs

Votive candles made from scraps of old candles
Votive candles made from scraps of old candles

To learn how to make interesting candles out of old candle scraps and stubs, read my new article on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog – Make Old Wax Candles Into New Candles

Fun at Perennial – a place, not a plant

Mary with two of her jewelry display boards that she built
Mary with two of her jewelry display boards that she built

Perennial is a non-profit community workshop and store with the mission of building a creative culture of sustainability and turning discarded items into valuable resources. As an artist and craftsperson who already is enthusiastic about using recycled materials, I was delighted when my friend Mary (pictured at top left) invited me to meet her there and try out one of the community workshop sessions.

I met Mary at a Creative Arts Fellowship last year and got to know her better at some subsequent events. Mary’s art and mine have a lot in common – we both like upcyling materials and taking apart old jewelry to make new. I enjoyed teaching a class with Mary recently at one of her Women’s Upcycled Jewelry Jams. I’m looking forward to more opportunities for Mary and I to collaborate. A gifted artist and teacher, Mary creates under the name Sanctified Studios.

I knew I’d love Perennial after being in there for about two minutes! Seeing all the nice work space, supplies and tools was exciting but what really sold me was the console stereo! Clearly my retro-loving, thrift-shopping, dumpster-diving self was going to feel comfortable here.

Look at all those wonderful woodworking tools!
Look at all those wonderful woodworking tools!

At my first work session I cut up some wood for an upcoming class I’m going to be teaching on building garden pollinator houses. Then I put together a wood tray that I’ll be finishing and writing about later.

You can become a member of Perennial to access the work space and use the tools when they hold open sessions. Different levels of membership also give you discounts on classes and other events. Perennial accepts donations of materials. You can trade or purchase some of the materials for what you think is a fair market value. They also make craft kits that are for sale in the shop.

Some of the supply stash on the left and the sewing area on the right.
Some of the supply stash on the left and the sewing area on the right.

Art and crafting can often be lonely activities. Working around other artists is really healthy for social interaction and for the stimulation of being around new ideas. I’m looking forward to many happy times while I enjoy my new membership!

Build a Mosaic Plant Stand

Finished mosaic plant stand

In this article I’ll show you how to make a stand to show off a special container plant. Raising a planter off of its surface can really enhance the appearance of a single specimen or help you create an attractive container plant grouping by providing elevation to some containers. Such a stand may also help protect the surface underneath by allowing air circulation under the pot so the surface can dry out between waterings. This stand is designed for both indoor and outdoor use. It is designed to let water from the plants run off, rather than catching it. This stand can also be used as a sturdy trivet indoors or outdoors.

Read more on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog – Build a Mosaic Plant Stand

Stencil a Sofa Shelf Made From Distressed Wood

Sofa shelf made from distressed wood
Sofa shelf made from distressed wood

I had a lot of fun using stencils that I cut to decorate a piece of distressed wood. I made the plank into a shelf for behind my sofa. My living room looks a lot better and I have more room to display some of my favorite plants and Mid-Century Modern collectibles.

Read about it on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog:
Stencil a Sofa Shelf Made From Distressed Wood

Upcoming class: Make an Antique Key Necklace

Make an Antique Key Necklace
Make an Antique Key Necklace

Make an Antique Key Necklace

Decorate an antique look key with faux pearls and crystals! I’ll show you how to select and assemble components and attach your key pendant to a chain or cord. Suitable for beginners. All materials are included and jewelry tools are available to borrow. Each class attendee will receive a printout with a written tutorial for that class so if you forget anything we learned you can refer back to it later.

NEW! At each class, there will be at least one door prize randomly awarded to an attendee – probably a craft supply item of some type that relates to the theme of the class. Past prizes have included a necklace kit, a polymer clay frame kit and a craft stencil. That’s my way of saying thank you for coming!

What to bring
It’s not necessary to bring anything, but if there are any special beads and charms you want to add to the necklace please bring them.

What will be provided
Antique look keys, faux pearls, crystal beads, chain, jewelry findings, jewelry pliers.

Make an Antique Key Necklace
Date: September 24, 2016
Time: 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Strange Folk Festival
Lafayette Square, Space TBD
St. Louis, MO, 63104

Class Signup

Image Transfers on Wood Jewelry

Image Transfers on Wood Jewelry
Image Transfers on Wood Jewelry

Class Info
Make amazing lightweight pendants by transferring found images onto wood. You will be supplied with the materials to make four pendants and two necklaces (one chain and one cord) for wearing your interchangeable pendants. You will learn the basics of transferring images with gel medium and attaching a clasp to a cord necklace.

Each class attendee will receive a printout with a written tutorial for that class so if you forget anything we learned you can refer back to it later. Jewelry tools will be available to borrow during the class and some tools and supplies will be available to purchase if you want to continue working on your own.

The class time is kind of long but the pace won’t be hectic – there will be breaks while we wait for things to dry. You will have time for lunch and there are lots of good places to eat or pick up food in downtown Maplewood.

NEW! At each class, there will be at least one door prize randomly awarded to an attendee – probably a craft supply item of some type that relates to the theme of the class. Past prizes have included a necklace kit, a polymer clay frame kit and a craft stencil. That’s my way of saying thank you for coming!

What to bring
It’s not necessary to bring anything but it’s a good idea to wear old clothes in case there is a paint mishap. You can bring or buy snacks or lunch. We have a refrigerator for storing food.

What will be provided
I will provide wood pendant blanks, paint, gel medium, images, findings and parts for four pendants and two necklaces, tools to borrow during class.

Image Transfers on Wood Jewelry
Date: July 2, 2016
Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location: Studio:art, 7403 Manchester Road, Maplewood, MO
More information and registration: Class Signup

Decorate a Terra Cotta Plant Pot with Acrylic Paint and Stencils

Terra cotta pots decorated with paint and stencils

Painting and stenciling terra-cotta pots is a fun and inexpensive way to enhance your patio or garden decor. Younger and older crafters alike can join in. Small decorated pots can be used as party favors. Medium-sized pots might provide the base for a table centerpiece. A large pot could function as a gift basket that you can fill with items for a loved one who likes gardening. Gardeners can always use extra small items such as gloves* (they tend to wear out with regularity), seeds*, bulbs*, bug repellent*, gardener’s soap, hand lotion*, sunscreen*, lip balm* and plant tags*. You can also throw in a gift card* so they can get exactly what they want!

To learn how, read my article on the Schnarr’s blog: Decorate a Terra Cotta Plant Pot with Acrylic Paint and Stencils

On my work table right now: cuff bracelet prototypes

I’ve been working on some prototypes for cuff bracelets made from upcycled fabric, ribbon and faux leather. I’ve had a lot of fun stitching ribbon to tubes made of fabric and pieces of faux leather. I’m embellishing some with beads and buttons. My next step will be working out how to finish the backs and attach snap fasteners. So much fun!

Cuff Bracelet Prototypes
Cuff Bracelet Prototypes