Monday, August 24, 2009

Put a Lid on it!

First, I have a few things to say about this new world of blogging. I have a confession:  I have blog envy. Other folks' blogs have the prettiest images and colors and fonts. I want my blog to be pretty, too! Hmph! [imagine now that I have my arms crossed and my bottom lip stuck out in childish frustration--I have to imagine it, too, because I can't type with my arms crossed]
My blog will be pretty one day--oh, yes it will. One of these days. As I slowly learn, this new home will start to look different. Ray Jay will be so glad that I can get my need for changing and rearranging things out of my system before I get off the 'puter. Less of a chance for me to rearrange furniture=happy (not so great with change) husband. Okay, I feel better now. Off to today's activity...
Note:  In true newbie fashion, I am not so great at formatting, as you will see from my sad attempts to post photos and instructions below.  The pictures aren't really where I want them to be and the bullets and numbers are not lining up. Not sure why but exactly, but they're not.  Bear with me until I figure out how the heck to format this sucker...

Cans, cans everywhere!
My family is pretty big--4 kids, me, and Ray Jay. One of those kids eats as much as 2 kids. So it's really more like 5 kids + the bill payers. We go through a great deal of canned items. Not like the kind that my industrious friend Kim goes through--that she cans herself with veggies from the garden she grows herself. What I mean is the kind you buy at Wal-Mart. Sometime last year, I realized that we probably went through about 2-3 cans a day. I thought it was time to start saving some of those cans, and their lids. I had no idea what to do with the lids, but I started washing them off and keeping them in a giant {recycled} plastic coffee container. I bought some tin snips at Lowe's to play with the lids, but I haven't stumbled across anything to do with that combination that doesn't have the potential to sever a small finger (let me know if anything comes to mind).

However, about a month ago, I did finally find something to do with the lids. My daughter Abbey's birthday was coming up and she wanted to have a party. I decided to meld two activities (picking out a card and decorating for the party) into one. So I made her a garland using the can lids.

Here's how they turned out:

Note: the one with the entire message says, "Happy Birthday Abbey." I'm taking donations for a better camera if you're feeling generous.


  • Can lids (duh--if you don't know that already, you're not paying attention). Clean ones would be optimal, espeically if they're from tuna or cat food cans. Unless you really don't like the person for whom you're you're doing it. Or if it's for your cat.

  • Scrapbook paper or any colored or decorative paper--even magazine ads would work if you want REALLY be frugal/earth friendly

  • Scissors

  • Punches--but only if you already have them. Don't go to Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby to get a punch just for this project and cuss me when you price them. I have been accumulating mine for several years and I have a special fondness for anything scalloped. If you don't have punches, stop whining and get something round that's a little smaller in diameter than your can lids, then use it for your template.

  • Crop-a-dile or Hammer/Nail/Cardboard--For those of you who read Crop-a-dile and have a WTH?! thought bubble over their heads, you can read about them here. Again, don't go out and buy one just for this. The same effect can be achieved using the old fashioned hammer & nail method.

  • Mod Podge--if you don't have this, first of all, you SHOULD, especially if you consider yourself crafty. This stuff rocks. But if you don't, you can use watered-down Elmer's.

  • Ribbon --I will expound on my love of ribbon another day.

  1. Using Word (or whatever you nerdy Mac folks call your word processing program), choose a font you like and type out your message. I think the font size I used for this project was around 100 or more to make the letter clearly visible. I also went into the font options and chose for mine to be outlined, with a hollow center (if making it hollow/outlined makes your brain cramp, skip it). You can also go really low-teach and hand draw bubble letters yourself. But only if're an awsome draftsperson, or don't really want to impress the person for whom you're making this. You could also flip through magazines and find letters in there, but who has time for that?  Speaking of wasting time, I also used a black pen and outlined my letters with a dashed line.  Just to make them stand out more.  It acutally IS worth the time spent.  In my opinion.

  2. Once you have your message typed out on Word, print it onto your scrapbook paper. I alternated between 3 different prints, so I really had to use my bean when I typed it so that every third letter would print on each page.

  3. Cut out letters.

  4. Cut out a back ground for your letters. I have 2 backgrounds: a circle and a circle scallop.

  5. Layer your letters and backgrounds onto your can lids with Mod Podge. I apply Mod Podge with an old paintbrush.

  6. After Mod Podge is dry, add holes to each side of lids. This is where you use either the Crop-a-dile or the hammer/nail/cardboard. "Why cardboard?" you ask. Because unless you really hate your work surface or you're at your mother in law's house, you need to put it under the lid to buffer the nail coming through when you hammer it.

  7. String ribbon through holes and tie into bows. If your holes are small, cut the ribbon on an angle to get it in more easily.
Have a great day! I'm going to enjoy this unusually temperate weather with my offspring.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Habitat can be Habitual

My first how-to on my blog will go against the grain of the blog title--it was about as far from quickie art as one can get. This project actually took me about 3 years to complete. But only because I have an {undiagnosed} case of adult ADD--I kept getting distracted by other things. However, I think the end result was worth all the grumbling from Ray Jay (living with me is just his cross to bear, but at least the cross is bedazzled). So without further ado, here's my first project:

Drawer Table

The title doesn't lend itself to anything glamorous, but just hang with me, it gets better. But first I have to tell you about one of my favorite places in the world: the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I am so sorry if you don't have one of those where you live. I'm sure you have heard of Habitat (if you haven't, you've been living in a cave), an organization which "brings families and communities in need together with volunteers and resources to build decent, affordable housing for low-income households." Well, the ReStore is a retail arm of Habitat for Humanity that makes available to the public the materials that have been cast off from tearing down, remodeling houses, etc. They also take donations of furniture, exercise equipment, and even clothing. These items would have otherwise been headed for a landfill. So if you're looking for some cheap vintage molding (our store sells it for 25 cents a foot--or it is a yard? anyway, it's cheap!) or paint, or bathroom sinks, or toilets--you name it--it's probably going to be at the ReStore. Just don't go to visit the ReStore in your Sunday best. Ours is located in an old car dealership and the bottom floor, which used to be the garage/repair shop, is très dirty. All you priss pots out there who regularly have your nails done and don't go anywhere without your clickety clack high heels might not like this. But I would love to see you try to navigate it...

My very favorite things to scavenge there are the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers. [Spoiler: I'm going to show you something in the future that I do with the doors.] They sell for $2-$3 each and hold endless potential for creative re-purposing. Which finally (I'm sorry--those who know me well can testify to the fact that I can't tell a story quickly) brings me to the project--the Drawer Table.

Drawer Table Materials

-1 cabinet drawer (in case you missed it, they're $3 at the ReStore!)

-2 x 2 piece of wood (got mine at Lowe's for around $2-$3)--one long length should be enough for the 4 pieces into which you're going to cut it




-broken dishes and/or tiles


-E-6000 or some other good glue

-drawer pulls


  1. If you're a meticulous worker (which I am NOT--I just don't have the patience for this step), sand your drawer to prep it for the paint.

  2. Cut your 2 x 2 piece of wood into 4 equal pieces. These pieces will be the legs for your table. If you are picky and want your table to be really tall, you might need another long 2 x 2 piece of wood. Which will probably call for another trip to Lowe's, since I only mentioned one piece in the list of materials. Well, that's what you get for being picky.

  3. Turn your drawer UPSIDE DOWN. The bottom of the drawer is your table top. Screw the table legs into the drawer in each of the 4 corners from the top (which used to be the bottom--have I confused you yet?) of the drawer. It is very important that you do this before you add the mosaic because because the mosaic will cover up the screws. [Note: Ray Jay, my handy assistant, also added screws to the sides of the cabinet where the legs touched for added support--this is totally optional, but recommended if your neighborhood is like ours and children turn into table hopping monkeys from time to time.]

  4. Paint the table and legs. Let it "cure" for a day or so before starting the mosaic. I also distressed mine with the sandpaper I was supposed to have used to prep it.

  5. This is one of my favorite parts because I get to whack stuff with a hammer. I love to whack stuff with hammers. Take your tiles, broken dishes, or whatever you have to use as a mosaic and get it ready. Here's a good safety tip for whacking stuff with a hammer: you can avoid putting your eye out by 1. wearing those dorky safety goggles, and/or 2. wrapping whatever you're whacking in an old towel. Then start adding the tile pieces to the top of your table (which used to be the bottom of a drawer, remember?) to establish your design. This part is where I got log jammed. I had my design laid out and ready to glue when I had some friends over one day. One of my friends' little darlings decided to pick off the pieces and throw them into my yard. This is where I just had to love the child through Jesus. Seriously. So moral to the story: if you have kids with tile-throwing potential, store this project in a safe place until you glue down the pieces.

  6. Glue down the pieces with some good glue. Elmer's ain't gonna do it--it has to be a little stronger than that. Let the glue dry.

  7. Add the grout. Let it dry for about 15-20 minutes, then scrape the excess off the top. This is a messy step. After it's completely dry, take a wet rag and clean off the excess grout from the sides and wherever else your messy self got it.

  8. Add some cute drawer pulls (which, obviously, are just there for decorative purposes).

  9. Put it somewhere EVERYONE can see it. Because YOU MADE IT! Mine is on my front porch. I get to see it every time I pull into the driveway. It makes me smile.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Welcome to the world, blogging girl!

Today I decided to take the plunge and start a blog. I've been writing it in my head for several years. [Or maybe that was just the voices. The voices also told me to finish off that box of Danish wedding cookies in the pantry. But I digress...]
I have the gift of teaching (whether I want it or not). And sometimes I even have good ideas (I get them mostly in the shower). So I'm going to use the aforementioned for the good. Or at least try to do so. I'm mostly going to share how I have fun with garbage.
Recycling Rocks!
I have obsessively been saving assorted garbage for a while now. I am starting to wonder if it's a healthy obsession. I suppose it is, because I try to think of things to do to re-purpose it. I was told by an artist with whom I worked in Alabama that southerners are known for making do with what they have. Perhaps it subliminally stuck with me. Another thing that stuck with me was that learning there is a gob of garbage floating in the ocean that is bigger than Texas. So those observations, coupled with the fact that I am CHEAP, started me down this path. I am going to try to share some ideas I have for renovating things otherwise seen as trash. Hopefully, some of you (if there ever are any "Yous" out there) will be inspired to save some plastic and other not-so-biodegradable materials from the giant floating garbage dump and make something from it that will astound your friends and family and most importantly, make your enemies green with envy.
How often I do it will be a mystery--I often feel like one of those circus performers who have all the spinning plates. Except that I am not as attentive to all my plates as the circus folk and some of my plates fall and break. Will this blog be one of the ill-fated plates? We'll see. Hopefully not.
God and Garbage
One of my professors in college told my class that when we write something, there has to be a "So what?" part to the writing. Or it's just a waste of time. So my "So what?" part of doing this is that I see a parallel with what I do with garbage and what God sees in each of us. In a culture (especially in the good 'ole USA) obsessed with image/status, we often look at someone and mentally trash them, or write them off as unworthy of our attention/love. However, and most thankfully, God sees potential in us all. He can dust off even the ugliest and make them beautiful. I know firsthand. He's still dusting me off. And from time to time, I roll around in the dirt and get messed up all over again. I am glad that He is patient. So a little disclaimer: sometimes I might also bring Him up. Because that's where all my ideas come from, anyway.
I'll be back soon! And maybe, just maybe, I'll have a project to share with you. In the meantime, give me some comment love to let me know you're out there.
Happy creating!