Friday, March 30, 2012

Featured Artist: Lilah Vintage

Meet Amanda from Lilah Vintage!  This is my first vintage upcycler that I've featured and what a great first.  I love Amanda's story, not to mention the fun picture of her.  I hope you'll enjoy reading about her work as much as I did.  Oh yeah, you'll have your chance to pick up a great pair of earrings just for sharing this blog post.  But more on that at the end.

Tell us a little about your shop and your art.

LilahVintage is a marrying of vintage material and modern design.  I collect quality broken vintage jewelry and take them apart to create simple elegant designs for everyday wear.

Silver Hoop Earrings
When did you start creating with “old stuff”?

My grandmother, Louella, was a spit-fire and lived a long fantastic life where you dressed up to get on an airplane.   I inherited all of her jewelry but much of it was broken and I didn’t want to throw it out so I took classes on beading and chain work learning how to reuse the pieces.    I love both the art of jewelry making and creating modern gems from beautiful old finds.

Who are the important folks/critters in your life?

I keep a photo of Louella at Morro Bay in a skirt suit and hat on my desk.  She’s standing at the beach so posh and engaging!  Next to her is a photo of my lovely fiancĂ©, Gary, and our Aussie rescue Lilah – for whom my shop is named after.
14kt Gold Nesting Necklace

Where do you take your inspiration from?

I gravitate towards the clean lines of mid century designers like Neutra, Eames and Eichler where every element has a purpose.

What other passions do you have in life?

My other day job is working on Hollywood movies as a coordinator.  I get so excited reading the script and being a part of movie making – even after 15 years.   I’m an avid runner and usually take Lilah trail running at Eaton Canyon in Altadena.
Also a portion of proceeds from all LilahVintage sales goes to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  It is a charity close to my heart as my mother is continuing her fight against leukemia.

Time to enter to win these beautiful earrings made from vintage glass beads

You know the drill, be sure to enter a separate comment for each action that you take below. On Thursday, April 5, will determine the winning number! Now get busy tweeting, sharing and commenting (and be sure you leave some way for me to contact you in case you are the winner):

1. Visit Lilah Vintage on Etsy and tell us your favorite item below
2. Tweet this post and be sure to include @Upcycled_Stuff in your tweet
3. Follow Lilah Vintage on Facebook

Good Luck!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Upcycled Springtime Egg

I recently received an email from a local craft store that gave me how-to instructions to make a really pretty spring time egg decoration.  Of course this wasn't just a free tutorial for the sake of a free tutorial, it was an opportunity to sell all the pieces that go into making this decoration.  The pieces that I would have had to purchase were; a wooden stand, a wooden egg and scrapbooking paper that looked like old music sheets. Well, here's the tutorial for the free UPCYCLED version. 

First, gather up your supplies:

Newspaper (or sheet music, magazine pages, etc.)
An egg
Old candlestick
Scrap ribbon or fabric and raffia or dried moss
A serrated knife
Mod Podge and a paint brush
Hot Glue Gun

There is no need to buy a wooden egg made from virgin materials when you have all you need sitting in your fridge.  Grab a mixing bowl, your serrated knife and an egg.  Holding the egg over you bowl, tap your egg firmly with the serrated knife to get it started .  It'll look a bit like the picture, don't worry about making it perfect since you'll be covering it with paper.  Wiggle your knife into the egg as you continue to move it around the egg.  You'll get about halfway around when it starts to give and you can just pull it open.

Run some hot water on the shell to get rid of the goo and pat dry before putting the eggshell back together again.  I tried a couple of things to get the shell back together.  I can tell you Mod Podge does NOT work.  You can see the glossy strip of dried Mod Podge going around my egg.  But hot glue seemed to do the trick.  It doesn't have to completely seal the egg, I just sealed a bit on two opposite sides to hold it together until I could apply the papier mache.

Now for the egg covering.  Why on earth would you buy brand new paper that looks like sheet music?  If you have sheet music laying around that you are no longer using then, by all means tear it up.  I didn't have any so I used newspaper.   Take a strip and apply it around the egg with Mod Podge.  Then continue to add strips around the shell until it's completely covered.  Use plenty of Mod Podge and smooth all the edges down on the egg.  Now go scramble that egg while you wait for it to dry.

Once your egg is dry, you can finish assembling the pieces.  I twisted several strands of raffia and hot glued them to the candlestick to resemble a nest.  You could also use a pinch of dried moss if you have that.  Then hot glue your egg into the nest.

To dress up the egg, use what you have.  I had a scrap piece of ribbon that was tied onto a gift (the original tag was still attached to it) that I tied around the egg with some additional strands of raffia. Then I cut a bird shape from a Fresca can and glued it to the bow.

Whadda ya think?  Still think you need to buy all that new stuff?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Featured Artist: Break the Record (and yes, another giveaway)

One of my favorite things about featuring other upcyclers on my blog is that I get the chance to see some really cool products that I wouldn't have otherwise seen.  Seriously, how cool is this night light made from old cassette tapes?

Stacey has a great Etsy shop, Break the Record, filled with fun upcycled items made from cassette tapes and records.  And this week, she's offering up this fantastic piece of functional art to one lucky reader.  Here's what Stacey had to say about herself and her upcycling!

Tell us a little about your shop and your art. 
Mix Tape Pencil Cup

Last May I began brainstorming for the perfect birthday gift for my boyfriend.  He is very hard to buy for.  He is a small business owner, but in his spare time he likes to DJ with vinyl records and also produce music.  So, I started thinking of gifts that were related to vinyl records and such.  That is when I decided to make a clock.  Within a week I had discovered a passion for making anything and everything I could out of vinyl records.  So I started looking for old scratched up no-longer-playable vinyl records and rescuing them before they were sent to rest eternally in the local landfills.  Friends encouraged me to try selling my crafts on Etsy, so I gave it a try.  After I sold my first clock to a woman who purchased it for her unborn son's retro themed nursery, I was inspired to create something out of the other retro music memorabilia like the cassette tape.  And since I was picturing a baby nursery, my first idea was a night light.  Now my MixTape Lights make up almost fifty percent of my Etsy shop.  

Who are the important folks/critters in your life?  

The two most important blessings in my life are my two little girls, Lexi and Jayden.  They inspire me every minute of every day.  As a single mommy I was actually job hunting for a second job when I decided to start my Etsy shop.  I had a hard time because I refused to work a job that would take time away from my babies.  I am so thankful that I started Break The Record because, although it may not be an "I quit my day job" story, it is a personal financial survival story that has made a significant impact on my family's life.  My daughters are very happy to be able to go skating or to see a movie on the weekend.  They say "Thank you, Mommy!" and I tell them "Thank Etsy!  Mommy got a sale this week."

When did you start playing with trash?  

The first time I "played with trash" was when I started cutting up old T-shirts and "making them cool."  I wanted a cool shirt to wear to a concert so I took an old band T-shirt and did a little slashing, slicing, and redesigning and whipped up a totally rockin' and unique halter top that was way more flattering for a young concert gal than a old boring man sized Tshirt.  

Where do you take your inspiration from?   
Vinyl Mail Sorter
My crafts are inspired by music and my love for it.  I spent my entire childhood watching MTV all day long.  I was never into cartoons or other things that kids my age were watching.  I was completely addicted to music videos.  To this very day I still turn on the television and go straight to one of the music channels.   My life inspiration and drive is inspired by my children and wanting to always be able to provide them with what they need, rather it be a new pair of tennis shoes for cheerleading tryouts, a mommy-made puppy costume, help with a science fair or art fair project, advice, encouragement, or a big hug.  

What other passions do you have in life?

There is one particular cause that is very close to my heart, and that is supporting the cure for breast cancer.  A portion of all proceeds at Break The Record are donated to numerous breast cancer charities.  My mother was diagnosed nearly 15 years ago.   She went thru surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  It took a toll on her body, but with lots of hope and many prayers, thankfully she did beat it.  My daughter and I are volunteering at the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk to show our support for finding a cure.  I will soon be launching a line of PINK MixTape Lights in which 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the cause.  My other passions in life are all my goals for the future.  I want to own my own clothing shop someday.  I've wanted to be a fashion designer since I was a little girl.  I hope to eventually open up my own clothing boutique  here in my hometown.  

What do you want readers to know about you or your art?  

Wedding Table Lighted Centerpiece
I love having my own Etsy shop, but I do find it very hard to balance running my shop, caring for my children, and working my full-time job at the State Prosecutor's office, where I have worked for the past 17 years.  Creating items for Break The Record is so much fun to me.  I love being crafty and I love music.  Combining two of my favorite things and creating really fun unique items is like my own personal form of yoga.  After my kids are in bed at night I get out all my supplies, relax and start crafting.  

Time to enter to win that really cool mix tape night light.  You know the drill, be sure to enter one comment for each action that you take below.  On Thursday, March 22, will determine the winning number!  Now get busy tweeting, sharing and commenting (and be sure you leave some way for me to contact you in case you are the winner):

1.  Visit Break the Record and tell us your favorite item below
2.  Tweet this post and be sure to include @iBreakTheRecord
3.  Follow Break the Record on Facebook

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Teeny Tiny Trinket Boxes made from Soda Cans

I've been playing around soda cans again!  Look at these teeny tiny trinket boxes that I came up with

If you want to see how I made them check out my Video Tutorial.  They are the perfect size for a small pair of earings or a ring...say for Mother's Day?  My first go at a soda can box was much larger but didn't have a lid and required a bit of hand sewing.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Upcycled Dog Bed for Naughty Kitties

Did you catch that? A dog bed for the kitties? Well, sort of.  I was forced to make my little man a new bed because I have such naughty kitties!  The kind that have tempertantrums when I come home from a few days away for work or won't let them go outside or when they are jealous of Chico.  They take no pause in showing their displeasure  while I watch them take it out on Chico's things.  Chico used to have a very nice, plush bed that came with him when he first "moved in."  But the constant marking (by the kitties) and then washing of said bed left it quite lumpy and misshapen.  It also didn't wash very well as it was quite large. 

So I came up with another solution.  Now, I know it doesn't look like much but there's a hidden secret in that bed!  First of all, I hate to sew so this had to be near to no-sew!  Secondly, it had to be easy to clean. And finally, it had to be upcycled!  I accomplished all three of these things with an old toss pillow, fused plastic grocery bags and some liquid stitch.

Here are the supplies you'll need to create one of your own:
1.  An old toss pillow, couch cushion, etc. with a zipper
2.  Several plastic grocery bags
3.  Iron
4.  Parchment or wax paper
5.  Felt (Eco-fi is made from recycled plastic bottles) and other embellishments
6.  Sewing Machine
7.  Liquid Stitch

The first thing that you want to do is make your fused plastic material.  There are plenty of tutorials on the web for fusing plastic so I will not go into that here, but here's one from Etsy.  I will note that to make one long continuous piece you can take the edges of several layers and weave them amongst each other as the picture shows.  Once you have your continuous piece fused together you'll want to measuure out two pieces that can be sewn together to form the internal pillow.  Don't forget to add a seam allowance. 

Right about now you're probably wondering why I'm going to all this trouble fusing plastic and sewing together a pillow.  Remember the bad kitties?  This plastic pillow will allow me to clean the surface of the pillow without putting it in the washing machine while it protects the internal fibers from holding onto any displeasing aromas and liquids.  All I have to put into the washing machine now is the slip cover. 

Now put your two pieces together and sew three sides of the "plabric" together.  Continue sewing on the fourth side but only go about half way. Turn your plastic pouch inside out so your seam is on the inside.

Now fill 'er up and sew it may want to use a needle and thread to finish up the opening.

Now you can cut up some felt or scrap fabric pieces and "stitch" it to the pillow with Liquid Stitch.

I will admit that this is my fist time using Liquid stitch and I was a little skeptical of it's promise to hold up in the laundry. So once I slathered on the glue and placed all of my pieces, I covered it with a piece of wax paper and put a book on top of it for a couple of hours just to be sure. Then I let it set for 24 hours as the package instructed. It seems like a nice bond but the first tempertantrum will be the true test.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Quirky Obsession with Cube Storage

While moving is stressful, there is something so cleansing and wonderful about the opportunity for a "design do-over."  One thing I've learned in the move is that I have what may very well be an unhealthy obsession with cube storage.  Just look at the cube storage units that I have in my craft space:

This Ikea unit started as a two-sided bookcase that separated a continuous living room and dining room when I lived in Los Angeles. It continued on to Seattle with me where it performed the same function.  Unfortunately, in my move to South Carolina it got pretty banged up.  So into the closet it went for storage when I started my Etsy shop.  Now it's perfect for all my kitty litter containers filled with glass jars, old clothes and the like.  Gosh, talk about some serious upcycling on this shelf!

I picked up two more cube storage units as my crafting with trash obsession grew.  One stores all my newspapers, magazines, phone books and so forth that I need for paper bead making (I think I'll be busy for a bit).  The other one stores a variety of miscellaneous tools, mismatched or broken dishes, spray paint, you name it it's on that shelf.


I picked up these little shelves before I moved and never used them because they didn't work in the space I had intended them for.  This set of three (while a bit crooked) lives on the wall by my sewing machine and is perfect for all of my little sewing odds and ends.  I still have another set that I don't know where I'll put!  And I should point out that really adorable pin cushion, it's artsy and upcycled.  I picked it up from The Frog Bag, she made it with the core from a used roll of packing tape and the bird on the front is actually a cancelled stamp.  Too cute!

Then I found this nifty little wall unit that stores all of my jewelry making tools and such.  Even found a way to add some upcycled goodness to this little unit with some covered soup cans for storage.

And finally, the piece that I almost forgot about as it is stored away in the closet. I did an enormous amount of downsizing when I moved and after donating half the shoe collection I was left with and extra shoe cubby.  It fits all of my old plactic jars and coffee cans that serve as a repository for things like pop tabs and syringe caps (yes, I will find something cool to do with these!). 

So there it is, my quirky little obsession with cube storage that I didn't even realize I had!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Featured Artist: Lambkin Toques

Merino Wool Toque
Did you know that a toque, brimless hat, could be made from a refashioned sweater?  Well it can!  And you can find some super cozy looking toques at  Lambkin Toques! The artist is Marcella and she is offering up one lucky reader the pick of her shop but she's also offering everyone else a 20% shop-wide discount through March 16 (just enter the coupon code UPCYCLEDSTUFF20 at checkout).  A bit more about how you can win one of these for yourself after we learn a bit about the artist.

Tell us a little about your shop and your art.
I make toques out of reclaimed wool. I also make other accessories as I become inspired (e.g., cup cozies, cowls, yoga socks, etc). Old unloved sweaters are my media of choice. I started making hats when I couldn't find one that I liked. I'd see sweaters at thrift stores and think that would make a perfect hat. Then the lightbulb went on and I decided to do just that.  Now I can't stop!

Alpaca Headband
Where do you take your inspiration from?

I honestly have to say I enjoy making every single toque. I love the process of being inspired by the material and pattern of a sweater. I enjoy showing people that products made out of recycled materials can be just as fresh and new feeling as products that are made from new materials.

What do you want readers to know about you or your art?
Wool Cowl

Someday, I'd like to try to make my own furniture out of reclaimed wood. I like to reuse materials as much as possible rather than buying something new. It takes a lot of resources and energy to make new products, I want to help reduce that by making sustainable choices. I'm far from perfect, I do what I can and take it easy on myself for things I can't.

Slouchy Mohair Toque
Sounds like my kind of gal!  Okay, time to enter to win a toque (or other upcycled item from Lambkin Toques) of your own and it's easy as one, two, three!  Be sure to enter one comment for each action that you take below.  On Thursday, March 8, at 6:00pm EST will determine the winning comment number!  Now get busy tweeting, sharing and commenting (and be sure you leave some way for me to contact you in case you are the winner):

1.  Visit Lambkin Toques and tell us your favorite item below
2.  Tweet this post and be sure to include @LambkinToques

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