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1  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Espresso Tray on: March 20, 2008 12:04:15 PM
I made this for my friend, Karen's birthday:

a close-up:

It was a lot more work than I expected, but it was a lot of fun too.

First, I painted the tray (I actually used a shadow box frame; the unfinished trays at my craft store are LAME, weak, pathetic these days), and let it dry. I used my glue gun and "drew" the squiggles all over the sides of the tray, and when it dried, I gave the whole thing another coat of blue paint.

I read recently about crayon batiks -- I forget where. Basically, you scribble all over a piece of paper, with crayon. Dense coverage. And then you crumple the paper up, hard. And then flatten it out, and paint over the whole thing. Sponge up the extra paint, and you've got a really cool looking batik. I've done this a few times with lazy susans and light switch plates, but I wanted something REALLY striking, that didn't look like crayon, so I REALLY scribbled on my paper, and then put it in the oven, just for a minute or so, to give the crayon a more "painterly" look, but I wouldn't do that again, if I could do it over -- when I crumpled my paper, some of the crayon was so thick, it cracked and simply fell off the paper! But I liked it well enough anyway. I used a lot of blues and purples, and for the paint resist, I used silver. I decided to cut the crayon resist batik paper into smallish chunks and slivers and decoupage them at the base of the tray, like a mosaic. I chose, roughly a sunburst kind of a pattern, though it's a little hard to see the design, as well as the colors in the design, with the glare. But in person, you can see the blues, and see the bursty pattern.

I let it dry, and I varnished the whole thing, but focused mostly on the painted/scribble glue part. For the bottom of the tray, I used one of those mix-at-home resin kits, and dumped the resin over my batik-mosaic. Before it dried, I added some glitter and glitter beads...not totally thrilled with the way the small glitter beads settled -- they kinda coagulated, so I probably wouldn't use them again. OR -- I'd add them on a layer of glue and then add more glue, to lock them into place before I added the resin.

If you haven't worked with resin, it's not hard, but kinda stinky, so make sure you're in a well-ventilated area, and set your project out of the way to cure for a few days.

Once the whole thing was cured, I added a couple of cool squiggle handles that I knew would match my friend's kitchen, as well as the squiggles of my glue designs. If you use a real tray, you can probably skip this, but the shadow box-cum-tray was slightly unfinished, and not totally recognizable as a tray until I added the handles.

Karen likes to drink espresso, and serve it to her guests, so I figured this would be a nice way for her to carry the cups out to her living room, or back porch, etc. It was SO hard to give it away! My husband loved it too! I almost forgot to get some pictures, but I'm glad I did. It might be the coolest thing I've made so far (not to toot my own horn...), so I might make one for myself. Anyway, Karen loved it too, so I'm happy!

Thanks for reading!
2  REUSING/RECYCLING/RECRAFTING / What the heck can I do with THIS? / kitty litter buckets on: March 19, 2008 09:26:22 AM
Hi, it's been a couple of years since I posted, but do poke around here regularly, and just wanted to say thanks so much for the inspiration.

My husband and I bought a fixer-upper in Trenton, NJ, and while we're in a pretty good neighborhood, it is still Trenton, and so, it can be a challenge, at times. One of the most heartbreaking issues we've encountered directly is the problem with the stray cats. It's endless here, absolutely endless. We've been here a few years, and have taken in/adopted out/trapped-sterilized-released a large number of cats, and there are days I wonder why the hell I'm doing it, because it seems to never make a freakin' dent in the problem. And I'm not specificallly cat person by nature or by birth, though I do love animals: the cats came to me, perhaps knowing more about me than I knew myself. Anyway, I'd like to say we currently have 5 cats inside, as pets, but it's a lie, or will soon be one. My sister asked us to watch her cat for awhile, last year, and now, he's lived with us longer than he lived with her. So that's 6. And then -- I am not making this up -- a stray kitten we call Garbage Juice walked in my back door last month, and basically demanded a better life. We got her fixed last week, and she's disease- free, and enjoying the good life in my office. We'd love to get her adopted, if you know anyone who's looking for a spirited tortoiseshell kitty, but I suspect she will join my indoor tribe, as she's very curious about my gang outside the office door. And yesterday, we trapped Sophie, one of our more social ferals, and she too (hallelujah) was disease-free, she had a tough time with the spaying, and needs to recuperate comfortably for a few days before we can release her again. So that's, what, 8 cats currently in my house? Sophie will go back outside, here, if we can't find a home for her -- she would make a lovely barn cat/mouser, if you need one. In the meantime, there are at least 8 more cats outside who come to us for food every day, and one by one we try to catch them, fix 'em up, but it seems for every one we catch, another two show up...sigh.

Anyway, you can imagine how much we spend on food and litter and vet bills...it's crazy (though we just found a fantastic agency who will pay for the sterilization and testing and basic vaccines...what a godsend!). We tried, when we were just at 3 cats, to use more environmentally friendly litter -- it's important to me -- but we have a couple picky cats, and I'll be honest, it's expensive tending these sweet monsters, so we look for deals, and often wind up relying on the 30 pound litter buckets. And some of the food manufacturers started selling kitty chow in the same buckets as well. As a result, we have a zillion litter/food buckets. Their recyclability is questionable here in Mercer County, so I've been repurposing them: they make handy garbage pails; they're great in the yard while weeding; they're great for bird seed, fertilizer, etc. And I've been able to give them to neighbors and friends to repurpose as well. But I still have a load of these things, and will likely always have a load of them.

So. I'm crafty, you know? Why have a "Fresh Step" bucket when I can paint it, mosaic it, glue beads to it, and so forth. So, a couple of months ago, I made a fancy-schmancy bucket to match our new bathroom, and got to use up some extra paints and do-dads, which makes me happy, because I have way too many supplies!

Anyway, here's the image:

If you have trouble viewing it here, click here:

If you have some of these cat litter buckets around, I'm sure you can do whatever you'd like to them, but just to give you an idea of what I did, I used a wee bit of dark primer to cover up the litter logo and info; I chose a dark primer because I knew I wanted to paint it a rich golden orange to match the bathroom, and figured I'd wind up using fewer coats of paints with the dark primer (I ultimately went for a distressed look with the paint, though). After priming it, I used my glue gun to "draw" a bunch of swirls and squiggles all over it. When the glue set, I painted it orange with some copper highlights. When the paint dried, I gathered up my little mirror pieces and mosaic gems and used E6000 epoxy to randomly attach them to the bucket. And at the end, I took a yard of bead fringe and wrapped it around the perimeter at the top (I used the E6000 to attach it, but I'm not sure if that was necessary...it holds though!). I was short by about an inch (dammit!!) on the fringe, but used a big pink flower to hide the gap.

I went back and forth on whether or not to paint the inside, and opted, in the end, not to bother, since usually, it has a garbage bag in it anyway.

If you need any of these buckets (they hold approximately 30 pound dry weight, and 5-8 gallons of liquid) and live in the area, I am more than happy to spread the joy. If you happen to be in the market for a kitty, I can help you out there as well. Of all the outdoor, visiting kitties, we have a huge assortment: male, female, fluffy, tabby, gray, orange, black, so there's quite the choice. I try to tell myself when I wonder what's the point, that at least for every single individual we bring in, fix up, get adopted, our efforts mean everything. Hope that doesn't sound pompous...just hoping to bring some attention to this dilemma!

Thanks for reading and best wishes to you! I look forward to your feedback and/or other ideas on what to do with the multitude of buckets.

3  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Mosaic backsplash on: March 24, 2005 08:46:21 AM
You all inspire me so much, to be big, bold and try new things!

Well, my boyfriend and I recently purchased a house, a fixer-upper, which has kept me from a lot of my crafty projects. However, because some areas of the house are in need of a total overhaul, I've been having fun, well, overhauling them in a big way!

The backsplash in the kitchen is the area I recently tackled. I'm including some pictures of my mosaic project...the original backsplash doesn't look too bad in these pictures, but we hated it...it was this goofy faux marble off-white thing. It matches the countertop, which, too, will soon be history in some fashion (maybe to a new countertop, or to a modified one, we'll see.)

I've never messed with mosaics before, though most of my crafty endeavors do involve adhesives...so, this was a job! I really thought I'd be able to get it done in a weekend...what a mistake! I still have a bit of work to do on it (a major clean-up; I need to get the switch plates to fit back in; and I need to trim/tidy the wires for the new under-the-cabinet lights I just installed to show off my handiwork), but I thought it was done enough to post.

As far as what I did, I'm sure I did everything wrong, so I won't post an out-and-out tutorial. But I started with the ugly wall, and marked up a rough design. I attached some embellishments (in this case, those flat marbles).

I should have attached a lot more to make my swirlly design bigger, thicker. But oh well -- I did thicken it up with red marbles a bit further into the grouting. I also edged the whole thing, with broken tiles with "finished" edges, which helped a lot.

Simon, one of my cats, can't help himself when it comes to little things he can bat around. So he jumped up, grabbed a blue marble and kicked it around. Then he looked at me like I was crazy:

Here's what it started to look like, about 10 hours in. I had to crack open the wine. I was in over my head!

And here it is, almost (but not quite done):

Like I mentioned, I have to trim those under-the-cabinet light wires. The kit was not "plug n play" unfortunately. And now I have a whole  new appreciation for electricians. AND tile workers!

I'm not one of those girls with long fingernails, but I do try to keep them nice. Now they're all broken, ripped, in fact. Grout embedded deep. Broken tiles are unforgiving, too. My hands are cut up. Of course, I should have taken more precautions, so it's my own fault.

Another bit I learned in doing this: I had envisioned incorporating mirror pieces, fanciful beads, as well as bits of broken pottery from one of my favorite (though now broken) bowls. The mirror and pottery pieces were much thinner than the tile, which made them sink into the grout a bit too much. I'm sure there are ways around this, but just in case any tile/mosaic newbies out there want to dive in...it's much better to use material that is all roughly the same thickness.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Thanks again for the inspiration!

4  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions / Bowls made from sliced veggies on: August 06, 2004 06:54:12 PM
Hey, does anyone have any ideas how to make those really cool bowls from sliced veggies/fruit? I saw a set of them in a catalog about two years ago, and I ripped out the photo and hung it in my office for inspiration, but so far, nothing has come to me. I saw them again on the uncommongoods website; you can see the link here:


To be honest, I'm in the middle of moving; we're buying a house. The new home is far enough away from my current part time job, so I'll have to quit, thus leaving me with a bit more time on my hands and the need for cheap crafts (you can't get much cheaper than potato and orange crafts, right?!). I COULD spend that time looking for more freelance work, but you know I'll have to spend the first month (at least) unpacking, and of course, decorating!

I won't be able to start on this project right away, but I hope to in September...if anyone has any thoughts on drying/cooking(?)/sealing techniques to prevent decomposition, I'd love to hear 'em. And of course, if you know of anyone who needs a freelance graphic artist/writer, I'm available! Smiley

5  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions / Ugly chandelier, inspiration needed! on: July 12, 2004 04:21:52 PM
We've just bought a house, and we're so happy! There are a couple of items that, of course, need modification, and for the most part, I have ideas of what to do with them.

However, I'm drawing a blank on what to do with the rather hideous faux chandelier in the dining area. I could take it down and put a new fixture up, but we're gonna be tight for cash for awhile.

I'm wondering if anyone here has revamped an ugly lighting fixture, and if so, I'm hoping you can share some ideas. I'm thinking beads might be a good way to start.

Looking forward to hearing from you!
6  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Bean Tray on: May 18, 2004 02:05:50 PM
Hi everyone!

I've been lurking for awhile now, and haven't posted a completed project, but I'll try to make up for that! I love craftster...what a great site, what great ideas!

Anyway, I just got my own web page up about two weeks ago. I'm a graphic artist and writer and needed to get some of my samples up, and I figured I'd use that space as a place to put up pictures of some of my crafty projects too. So I've been taking pictures and such; so now I'm ready to post here with pictures!

Here's a project that started out as something else and become something I totally loved!

I bought a square tray at one of the craft stores, and stained it with a dark stain. I was going to decoupage a sheet of textured wallpaper on the "floor" of the tray, but while I was cutting the wallpaper, my mind started to wander, and my head wound up facing a jar of beans on my stovetop. So I wound up gluing down a bunch of beans in this circular pattern instead. Wasn't difficult, but it was time-consuming.

After I glued all the beans, I varnished the whole thing.

The tray isn't very large, big enough for maybe a couple of cups of tea. I'd rather not use it for a whole lot though...I'm not sure how well it will clean up!

I hope you like it! And I hope I explained it well!

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