Quirky Coconut Suet Feeders DIY Tutorial

I knew I’d be making suet feeders someday after buying our curious grand kids a coconut to sample over a year ago.

I’d never made a coconut feeder, but thought it would be a lot of fun to play around with some scraps from my salvage stash and make something quirky to hang in our front yard tree.

The shells were already dried and had holes, so once I gathered some old springs and wire pieces they went together pretty quick.

I had planned on shaping wire into hangers, but found two wire pieces that had been cut from the top of old lamp shades and popped them into the holes instead.  

Wanting to provide some sort of a perch, I cut the small end off a bed spring, and wired it in with the wire arms of the hanger. 

For suet, I melted a pound of lard (use lard/shortening or fat that will stay solid at room temp) in a saucepan over low heat.  After the lard was melted, I removed it from the heat and stirred in 2 C birdseed, a handful of raisins, ½ C breadcrumbs, and ½ C unsalted peanuts.  Let it cool.

To ready the shells for suet, the outside hole openings were covered with tape, and for a little added measure, the inside holes were plugged with peanut butter. 

Wadded newspaper was used to keep the shell halves level in a shallow pan. 

Fill the shells with cooled suet and let them sit until the suet solidifies.

A super easy hanger was made by attaching a 2” metal ring to a 5” spring, and some bling on a jump ring to catch a little bird’s eye.  

Bring on the birds!

 

 

Recycled Tin Can Wreath DIY Tutorial

This rusty, country style wreath may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it looks right at home in my rural garden, so I’m sharing it just for fun!

While going through old garden magazines last year, I caught just a glimpse of the side of a tin can wreath hanging in the picture of a garden, so of course I felt the need to make one. I threw a bunch of dog food cans in a tub of water to soak outside for a few weeks and start the rusting process.

After dumping the cans to dry, I creased them in the center with the side of my foot, and drilled a ½” hole through them.

I used twenty eight, 22 oz. cans for my wreath, and a 5 ft. length of heavy fencing wire. Cans are heavy, my wreath still sagged a bit, but the fencing wire helped it hold a circular shape. 

A small loop was bent in one end of the wire to hold the cans as they were threaded on.  I did a pattern of three as I threaded .. two with the crease one way, them flipped the third, but they can be put on any way you want. 

 

After all the cans were threaded on, the wire was cut close to the end, a hook was shaped to go into the loop, and squeezed tight.

That’s it, easy peasy.  

My wreath has been hanging in the garage for the last year, out of sight, out of mind, until now.   An awesome find of a big bird nest, dislodged from one of our pines during a recent thunderstorm, prompted me to adorn my wreath with Mother Nature and hang it in the garden.  A step out to the gravel road provided a few stones for makeshift eggs; a little surprise for my four year old granddaughter when she sneaks a peek … she’ll be delighted!

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Repurposing with Salvaged Aluminum Screen Guards

Aluminum screen guards – look at all those pretty scrolls!  You may want to keep your eyes open for these my repurposing friends, they’re a treasure, and have so many possibilities, used whole or cut into smaller pieces.  I’ve had a small pile of them hoarded in my garage for sometime now and recently pulled them out when I was making for the market event last month.

My first thought was to cut them into separate scroll pieces and make brackets by trimming them with thin wood pieces as in the finishing step of my last post.  I haven’t found time to follow through on that yet, but did get them used in a couple other ways.

For pieces, we used a hack saw to cut the guard in half before grinding off the head of the rivets with a cutting wheel on a die grinder. Thank goodness my husband is much handier with a cutting wheel than I am. He got the job done smoothly and didn’t leave hardly any marks on the aluminum. After grinding, tap the rivet out with a punch if needed.

    

Scroll pieces were attached with small wood screws, in the holes already provided, to quickly dress up old boards for indoor/outdoor decor. If more holes are needed, I would suggest using a drill press.  The one with the hooks is my favorite.  The top board can be hung with the scrolls up or down, away or against the wall.  The scroll piece on the bottom board is from an old mailbox; wouldn’t it be fun to personalize?

Two guards, with their side ends cut off, fit nicely into a couple empty window panes to make a flower box and decorative wall panel. To achieve an iron finish, one guard was first spray painted with Rust-oleum gray hammered paint, let dry, brushed with a black glaze, then burnished with #1 steel wool.  The aluminum guard pieces each ran a different direction on these two projects.  With no rule of thumb to follow on how to secure them, I did what was easiest for me.  E6000 was used to glue short lengths of 1/4″ wood into the notch of the flower box guard, held tightly in place with tape until completely dry, then painted.

 

 

A notch was cut from a very thin piece of wood to fit over the painted guard on the wall panel, glued and nailed in place with a brad nailer, then touched up with paint.

  

Anyone eager to go scroll hunting yet?  I know I’ll be toting home more if I come across them while out gathering this summer.  Don’t limit your search to door guards, give those old picnic tables and awning legs a good look over too!

  

I’ll be back with an update on those brackets ……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Console Table Upcycle DIY Tutorial

We are blessed! 2018 finds my family all healthy and happy. Although we are all still temporarily under one roof, it’s an exciting time. Many remodeling plans were slowed or halted by frigid winter weather, but now, everyone’s plans and projects are ready to move forward again. For some, there’s career advancements on the horizon, and for me, a little more free time to do what I like best; make stuff, and go gather things to make more stuff.
With more free time also comes the opportunity for me to lay claim to the old chicken shed behind our house. It has served as storage and even an extra pet kennel when needed, but now it’s vacant. I’ve long yearned for a space to store found treasures and set up a small shop to sell my wares, maybe host some garden art classes. I’m still kicking some ideas around, but after repairs and a hot power washing, I’d like to have something going in the very near future.
My sister has recently retired. Like me, she enjoys a good hunt and repurposing her finds too. We’re looking forward to meeting a bunch of fun, like minded people on June 2nd when we participate in the 6th Annual Back Roads Vintage Market in Dysart, Iowa. I’ve often heard good things about this event, but have never been free to go. The pictures shared on their Facebook page are impressive, can’t wait to get there. https://www.facebook.com/BackRoadsVintageMarket/

Thinking of wares, and with the market only 3 months away, I needed to kick it in gear and get busy. I took a poke around my garage to see what could be started right away. Holy Cow, there’s a lot out there. I was happy to find quite a few things I already had a plan for. Yep, one was the console table, a perfect upcycle piece. It was purchased at Hobby Lobby originally. It held a pencil lamp behind our living room couch for several years, but wasn’t much good for anything else because it tipped easily. It was moved out over a year ago when the kids needed more room to play.

If you’re a Facebook follower, you’ll know I’ve been working on the table, in spurts, for the last couple of weeks. Basically, it was just flipped end for end, making the top the bottom, and the bottom the top. It could have gone together much quicker, but, well, you know, life’s little interruptions. I’ll need to start working more diligently though. I hope you stay tuned, I think you’ll like some of the projects that will be coming.
I replenished my favorite Stowe White paint at Lowe’s recently, and found a few new Valspar colors I thought would work well together. The small 8 oz size paints are perfect for projects like this.

The original size of the table was 33″T x 35″W x 9 3/4″D.
Two pieces of 1″ pine were cut for a new top and bottom, each 36″L x 11 1/4″W. Sanded smooth.
Three screws holding the metal table top were removed. The screws were too short to be used again. The metal top was centered on one of the boards, flush on the back edge.  Holes were drilled down through the existing screw holes, through the metal and into the wood. Flip the metal top over so the finished side is up. Check to see if the holes line up nicely, if not make adjustments. This stacked piece will be the base of the table when finished.

All surfaces of the boards were brushed very lightly with streaks of Granite Dust, Gravity, and Stowe White in a random pattern. Let dry completely, repeat. Let dry completely again, then sand to see the grain. Wipe with a tacky cloth to remove any dust before staining with a Dark Walnut wood stain. Let dry overnight. To finish, following the directions on the can, wipe on two light coats of low gloss Tung Oil Finish. Dry completely.

       

Four corner, or “L” brackets, will be needed to attach the new top board to the legs. There are fancy ones available but I used ones I had.
A slot was marked on the inside of the legs, on each end of the table, to accommodate a 1/2″ wide bracket. Cut the metal with a cutting wheel on a die grinder. Position the brackets so the tops are flush the the top of the legs, screw into place.

  

The metal table frame was painted with two coats of Brisk Olive green paint, drying completely between coats. Distress the edges by rubbing the paint off with a dampened cloth.

Position gliders and nail them into place on the bottom of the base board.  If needed, clip the end of the nails so they don’t protrude through the wood.

  

To add weight, scrap plywood pieces were glued on the underside of the metal top. Weighted down and dried overnight.

On an even surface, stack the base board, weighted metal table top piece, and the upturned green table frame. Line up the pre-drilled holes and screw solidly into place. I used small washers on 1 1/4″ wood screws. The tips were cut off of the screws so they wouldn’t protrude.
Turn the table base over and center it on the newly finished top board. Keep the back flush like the base. Mark the bracket holes. Drill starter holes before screwing into place, again, making sure the screws don’t protrude through the top.
        

And, there we go. Finished and ready for a new home.  I really like how this shade of green looks with the dark stain. But then again, I like almost anything green.  I’m sure you’ll be seeing this color again real soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fused Glass Snowman Ornament

Christmas orders have been keepin’ me busy, busy, this last month, and delayed progress on my other crafting projects.  Every year I tell myself I’m going to get a jump on things and get started in August, but, yeah, it never seems to work out that way. I guess maybe I’m just not disciplined enough to do it.

But, wanting to share something in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I’d show how I make my snowman ornament.  This little guy was my first ornament design. He’s been a good seller for me and I still offer him today.  I know there’s not much time before Christmas, but he’s pretty simple to make. Please feel free to make him for gifts for your family or friends. He is my original design, so I do ask that you do not make him for sale or profit, Thank You.

I had a client request a few snowmen in purple, so you’ll see the purple colors in this post, but, I’ve used a variety of colors as you can see in the feature picture.  I use Spectrum System 96 colors and a COE96 Uroboros 602502 red.

I like to get all my little embellishment pieces out of the way, so before I start ornaments, I make a batch of holly, carrot noses, and berries.

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After using my pattern pieces to cut my glass –

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there’s three steps I’m mindful of as I shape and grind –

#1 – I lay the hat brace on the backside of the hat piece to make sure it mimics the top shape of the hat, and will fit neatly behind it.

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#2 – Make sure the hatband fits nicely about 1/8″ up from the bottom edge of the hat.

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#3 – Shape the top curve of the hat brim to match the bottom curve of the hatband.

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Clean glass pieces thoroughly. Bend a short length of 17 gauge high temp wire to form a loop.  Glue it in place, in the center of the hat brace, propped on a small piece of kiln fiber, let dry.   I always use kiln shelf paper for my ornaments, but, to each their own..

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While you have the glue out, glue the hatband on the hat and the end on the scarf.  Prop the scarf end with a scrap of glass until its dry.

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Once everything is dry, brush a little fusers glue along the bottom edge of the hat brace, and carefully lay the hat piece over it, covering it completely.  The hat will meld over it so its not seen after firing. Let glue dry well before brushing a little glue on the bottom edge of the hat, and laying the head in place, slightly overlapping. Let glue dry.

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Brush small line of glue along bottom edge of head, and lay the scarf in place, slightly overlapping, at neck.  Let dry.  Place hat brim on the shelf, separately, to fire.

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I use a small tabletop kiln to fire my ornaments.  I start on medium, with the lid open a bit, until the temp reaches 1000 and the kiln paper is done burning, then close the lid and turn it to high. I like a sharp clean look, so I watch closely through the kiln lid window when the temp gets to around 1600 degrees, and shut the kiln off quickly once the glass edges have rounded smoothly .. most often at 1650 – 1700 degrees. After unplugging the kiln, flash vent to 1100 degrees, and shut the lid until the kiln is at room temp.

After completely cooled, glue the hat brim on with E6000.  I always prop the hat brim and/or lay the rubber ends of my small pliers across it to hold in place until dry.  Use a toothpick to help glue on nose, holly, and the berry.  To add the glass seed bead eyes, squirt a small amount of glue on waxed paper.  Hold the bead with tweezers, touch it in the glue, then put it on the glass.  Let glue dry. Clean away any unwanted glue, that is showing, with a craft knife or small ceramic tool.

Hope you have fun with him! Please contact me if you have any questions. I’d love to see what you create if you’re willing to share!

Embellished Painted Mason Jar Fall Decor

I’m so excited! There’s a big 3 day happening in Central Iowa this week-end.  If you like treasure huntin’ and junkin’, you won’t want to miss this one.  Check out @Back Roads Junk-it Trail to print off a map of all the wonderful places to go, and join in the fun!!

My Thanks to @Gypsy’s Alley, in Nevada, Iowa, for graciously accepting me as a new consignee recently so I can participate in the event.

I have a few gourd projects to finish up, and some cool junk pieces to load up too, but, stained glass leaf sun catchers, garden stakes, and garden chandeliers have already been delivered. Its a good thing I was in a hurry when I stopped by to make a delivery the other day.  The place was filled to the hilt with so many new things, and awesome displays, that I know I would have spent the whole morning there and surely brought home more than I took!

With re-purposed and painted Mason jars being so trendy these days, and with a little time to spare, I thought I’d make a little fun Fall decor to take too.

Last spring, I had saved some jars because they were embossed with a small checkered design on three sides, and had a smooth front, which I’m assuming was probably for a label.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, but I liked the texture, and remember thinking the front might offer a nice surface for a tiny mosaic.

After rethinking it a bit, I still liked the idea of a design on the front, but scratched the idea of a mosaic with grout, and choose to go with a fused glass tile instead.

I measured the smooth surface on the front to determine the size of the clear glass tiles I wanted, then drew a simple leaf pattern to fit on top of the tile piece.  My drawing skills are not what they used to be, so this was definitely the most difficult part of the project for me. You could also find a pattern to trace if you like.

I picked out some fall colors of glass, and cut and ground them to fit my pattern. I had three jars, so I changed the leaf colors around so they were not all the same. All of the pieces were cleaned, then fired in a tabletop kiln, up to 1700 – 1750 degrees, just until the edges were rounded.  My glass was all 96COE, but it doesn’t have to be.  The only pieces that need to be COE compatible would be the middle leaf and small brown dots, nothing else is fused together.

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Wanting my jars to be dark brown, I waited until I could take a piece of fired brown glass to town to match it.  A brown spray paint would work too, but I opted to have a small sample sized can mixed for about $3.00.

Each jar was washed and given a quick wipe of alcohol, then painted with a foam brush.  I did 4 coats for nice coverage. In between coats, I wrapped the end of the brush in a baggie and clipped it closed, so I only had to use one brush.  After the jars were completely dry, they were speckled white.  Once the speckling was dry, they were sprayed with clear matte sealer. Even though the paint is sealed, they may still scratch easily, so handle gently.

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A fired leaf arrangement was traced inside the traced shape of a clear glass tile. Remove the leaves and replace the clear tile in it’s place over the leaf tracing. Following the traced pattern, glue leaf pieces in place with E6000.  Let dry completely.

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Lay a dry tile on the front of the jar to determine where your leaves will be located before gluing. For the best adhesion, scratch off a very small amount of paint in the areas that the leaves will cover.  Put a small dab of E6000 on the scratched areas, lay the tile in place, and press down very lightly, obscuring the glue.  Be careful not to use too much glue or it will seep out beyond the leaf and be seen through the glass.  Let dry overnight.

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Knot a length of raffia around the neck of the jar. Fill with fall flowers, a pretty napkin and tableware for an informal fall gathering, anything you like!

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Gosh, I really like these colors … one of these may have to stay here …   Happy Fall!

 

 

Show Stopper Shadow Box DIY

This project actually began last November when I was looking for a storage box for the pear gourd wreath shown in my October 2015 blog post. The dried flowers were pretty fragile and I was a little leary about packing it away. That’s when I thought of a shadow box. Why not frame it as wall art?  I could make a box .. something eclectic… maybe a combination of scrapbook paper and aged mirror.

The biggest dilemma was finding a suitable box. Who knew finding a 10 x 10 x 2.5 inch box, with a lid, would be so hard?  I was even willing to buy a fancy box of chocolates, had the box been right. Sometimes, I get a bit antsy when I’m itching to do a project and can’t find just that certain thing I think I need. But, I’ve learned that a little patience goes a long way, and if I just wait, something always seems to show up.

My daughter and I were checking out the clearance aisles at Burlington Coat Factory last month. I wasn’t really shopping for anything, just entertaining my toddler granddaughter in the cart, when I saw a pile of magnetic clasped boxes on the shelf.  So unexpected, and more than PERFECT!  A clasp option would make the box easily accessible to switch out whenever you wanted.   I was reenergized, this was going to be fun!

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With the clasp at the bottom, I measured in 5/8″ from the top and bottom of the lid, and 3/4″ on each side, to cut out a frame opening. Cut nice straight lines by running a sharp utility knife along a ruler’s edge. Seal the box with gesso. Let dry.

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A 1/4″ sq. craft stick was mitered for the frame opening.

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Trace the box on a piece of foam core board, and draw an arch at the top. Lie flat, on padding or cardboard, and cut out with a utility knife. Fill in rough edges of foam board with lightweight spackling. When dry, sand lightly to smooth. Seal board with gesso. Let dry well.

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Paint the box, frame pieces, and foam board with black primer or craft paint. No need to paint where the box and foam board will be glued together. The second picture, below, may look a little strange, but the foam board will curl when painted.  I laid mine over a container, weighing each end down, past center, to dry. Once dry, I turned it over, laid it flat on my worktable, and weighed it down to flatten again. Trust me, please, it works.

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I knew I had been saving a cool, striped C.J. Banks clothing sack for a reason. After smoothing it out with a warm iron, it covered the long foam board with no seams.

Place the foam board on top of the striped paper to center the stripes, and trace it with a pencil. Hold the paper up to a bright window, face down, and retrace your line on the back of the paper. This pattern line will help keep your stripes centered when gluing. Cut your pattern out larger, away from the line about 1 1/2″. Do not cut on the traced line.

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Paper may stretch when wet. Wanting to achieve the smoothest surface possible, I glued and dried small sections at a time, using a plastic gift card and brayer to work out air bubbles.

Lay foam board face up. Beginning at the bottom, brush on a light, even coat of thinned white glue, going up about 3 or 4 inches. Turn the glued foam board over, and position it face down on the backside of the striped paper, within the retraced pattern line. Press it firmly in place, turn it back over, face up, and smooth out air bubbles. Weigh down to dry. Continue to glue until covered.

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Use a fid, or paper folding tool, to wrap paper tightly around edges before gluing. Trim away excess paper for neat corners, and cut some darts around the arch. Glue and weigh down to dry. Glue may seep at edges, as a precaution lay a sheet of wax paper over the glued area before weighing down. A piece of light weight brown paper was added for a finished look.

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Fortunately for me, my youngest daughter downsized recently, and stored a treasure trove of scrapbooking paper in my basement. I chose three patterns I felt would compliment each other and my wreath. Pieces were cut to the appropriate sizes to cover the surfaces of the box.

A little black and metallic gold craft paint was mixed together to match the papers. The mixture over the black base paint almost created an olive green tinge, an added plus!  I painted the front and back of the lid, the folds of the lid, all corners, edges, and frame pieces.

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I love the look of aged mirror. I had a few pieces I had aged, with some of the backing completely gone, and thought bits of the decorative paper would look awesome peeking through them. I cut two pieces for the outer sides and a square for the inside.

The paper pieces were glued on with a thin layer of white glue. After they were smoothed and air bubble free, I clamped the mirror pieces and spare foam board pieces over them to ensure they would dry flat and stay smooth. Glue the paper accent on the arch and weigh down to dry.

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Cut a thin piece of clear glass for the frame opening. Stand the box on it’s top and fold lid down flat. Position the glass on the inside of the lid, covering the opening. Slowly, lower the box down over the glass to make sure it fits inside the box and doesn’t hinder closing. Use small dabs of E6000 to glue the glass in place. Be careful not to use too much glue or it will seep to the front and you’ll have some cleaning to do. For cushion, and to help even out weight, lay a couple pieces of foam board across the glass before weighing with books to dry.  I squeezed small dabs of E6000 on the backside corners and edges of my mirror pieces, and clamped them on the papered sides while the glass was drying.

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Gorilla Glue was used to adhere the foam board to the back of the box. Gorilla Glue swells as it dries, be careful not to apply it too close to the edge, it will seep out and get ugly.  Apply it to the backside of the box, in a thin line, at least 1/2″ away from the edge, and a few swirls in the center. Remembering to keep the clasp at the bottom, position the box very near the bottom of the striped foam board piece, leaving about 1/16″ of the stripes showing.

Squeeze small dabs of E6000, on the backside corners and edges of the square mirror piece and glue it to the inside of the box. Weigh it all down to dry. I found a smaller box that fit in, on top of the mirror, then weighed the box down. Let dry overnight.

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I’m going to rely heavily on Gorilla Glue to hold prong hooks for hanging.  I bent the tops of the hangers out a little, before gluing, to accommodate a nail head. A sheet of wax paper was laid over the glued areas, before weighing it down to dry, so nothing got stuck and damaged the brown paper.

The frame pieces were held in place with painter’s tape. I removed them, one at a time, brushed on thinned glue, and clamped them down to dry. They shifted easily, so I waited until one was secure before moving to the next. You may have to touch up a little paint where you used painter’s tape.

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To complete the look, an old drawer pull was added to snazzy up the arch.

The wreath was laid in the box, with small dabs of E6000 in a few places on it’s backside, where it touched the mirror, and left to dry overnight.

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I’m pretty sure that shadow box making has just nudged it’s way onto my favorites list. I think the hanging element can be improved with a little more forethought, but, I am so pleased with the way this project turned out.  Although it was time consuming with all the gluing and drying, I believe it was worth it. Any time you can learn a little, have fun, and have something to show for it, is time well spent!  Don’t you agree?