from Hilary’s basement to your mojito glass

We had been on the hunt for recycled tiles to create some simple but fantastic coasters like these and the ones I bought for my mom at the fabulous Twist Craft Fair last year from the amazingly talented Zandra Zuarw from zeal

Serendipitously, my friend Hilary asked for my help to declutter her basement worktable.  Hilary does not like to throw anything away, so when I offered to take her excess bathroom tiles off of her hands, she was delighted.  And so was I.  Check out all of the fun stuff you can use to decorate them:  fabric, maps, an old National Geographic book, and beautifully printed paper.

vintage fabric; i mean, lots of vintage fabric!

it was an amazing morning.  my mother-in-law’s best friend took us to her mom’s basement to look through old fabric. we didn’t know what to expect. when we turned the corner and saw the old-school sewing machines and the largest fabric cutting table i had ever seen, it became clear that we were in for a treat. we had heard there was a lot of fabric, but we had no idea what we would really find in that dark corner of chicopee.  what was there? gorgeous bolts and samples of vintage fabrics from the ’50s-’80s. bright, inspiring colors and patterns. all sorts of prints.

our heads were spinning with ideas of all the great things we could do with these fabulous materials, like this.  yours will be too! 

more fun and games with clothespins

Decoupaged clothespins!  This is such a simple and quick craft project that I managed to get several sets done while my son Gus was napping and Stella the cat was on my lap.  The first set is from decoupage paper, and the second is from a map of Vermont.  I love the idea of a geographically customized gift.

They are great for simply clipping papers together.  If you were teaching a craft class, for instance, you could impress your class by using the clips to organize your decoupage paper by color:

Other great uses are as a photo clip (just affix the clothespin to a base), or to hold papers or display photos on a filing cabinet or a refrigerator (just glue a tiny magnet to the back).  I first admired these at Essentials in downtown Northampton, and then found an easy tutorial at Pin and Paper.  I tried doing them two ways:  with the exacto knife like the tutorial suggests, and tracing around the clothespin and cutting it out.  I found the latter much easier.

They make great stocking stuffers, new job gift (an office job, that is), or wedding and party favors.

vintage buttons + recycled shirt = napkin rings

A blue and yellow striped shirt from Salvation Army and a mason jar full of vintage bluvve buttons.  What more could a girl ask for on a Thursday night while the babe sleeps and the husband plays trivia?  Found this great, easy napkin ring project (see project #15), and I love the results!  

I especiallve the blue  yellow stripes against the napkins made from a vintage Vera tablecloth.  What a lovely summer color combination; perfect for dinner on the porch.

Holy Garage Sale!

This was my first real garage sale weekend since we embarked on Reclaimed Crafts, and boy was I excited. My son Gus’ early wake up time assured us the best picks. Gus, my friend Kerry and I piled into her car and had an unbelievably fruitful morning. First stop, an older gentleman in Florence who was, in his own words, “downsizing.” He wistfully parted with this amazing vintage wall map of the Valley, the kind they used to have in classrooms, while recounting all of the times he used it to get places, telling me it was “faster than the Internet.”

Then on to Holyoke, where an estate sale netted us a great old Jordan Marsh ad, a whole set of “Power of Personality” books (which I may have to read before reusing them as great decoupage material), a New York Times from 1962, and a 1963 year in review book that calls Canada “the ‘unknown’ giant” and features a special report on the Kennedy assassination.

Then on to a sale we fortuitously stumbled upon, to find exactly what I had been looking for to use as mats for accordion photo albums and the 4 over 4 salvage windows Laurie scored last weekend: 12 vintage New England maps.

Finally, $2 bought me an enormous bag of felt in Easthampton, just perfect for converting old tiles into coasters. A very happy weekend!

buttons galore!

Buttons are so lovely that I set out to collect them. I don’t know for sure what we’ll do with them, but I have tons of vintage tablecloths from the 50’s and 60’s left over from my wedding that could also be repurposed and teamed with the buttons for a sweet and super easy napkin ring project.

I acquired the mixed jar in the best possible way: my friend spotted my wanted ad on Freecycle and gifted me a jar that she had scored from another Freecycler. I have a weakness for all things blue, so I bid on the jar of blue buttons on Ebay.

Clothes Pins, The Beginning

The minute I found this enormous old bag of vintage clothespins at a yard sale I knew our adventure was officially underway. I didn’t know what we’d do with them, but I knew we needed them. They are the cool old-fashioned kind, wrapped in wire and with beautiful rounded heads. I imagined the woman who owned the house sewing the bag that still held the clothespins the day I purchased them ($1!).

Laurie took one look at them and knew immediately they should be flipped on their beautiful heads to serve as a mail holder. Here she is, wielding power tools, creating her vision.
And here it is, a naked mail holder, soon to be decoupaged and stamped to perfection!

best score to date?

today my husband, who has declared that he is happy to be known as my accomplice (and therefore will be hereinafter so named), helped me with my best score to date: 44 paned windows! here’s how it went down:

we were running up chesterfield road in leeds on the first truly gorgeous day of this spring. at the same time we spotted one terrific looking 4 over 4 wood paned window. (it helps to have a spouse who has the same trash-pickin’ eye as you). we finished our run, jumped in the car, and went back to grab it. i decided to leave a note indicating that i would love more windows if more existed. later that day i got a call! i had a lovely conversation with a friendly gentleman asking me how many windows i needed. (that was an interesting question. to me the right question is: how many do i want? the answer is always the same: whatever you have.) he went on to tell me that he and his wife just replaced all the windows in their home and that i could come out to grab whatever he had on sunday, so long as i arrived before easter dinner. no problem. Accomplice and i made our way to leeds and here is what greeted us:

There are so many great ways to repurpose these windows, but one of my favorites is to use them as large photo frames.  I also love the idea of using chalkboard paint to turn a four over four pane window into a weekly calendar (with a bonus panel!) that would look great in a kitchen.

salvaged balusters? spindle sticks!

My friend Laurie and I have been holding Craft Days (or The Longest Day of the Year, as my husband calls it) for years. We’re always looking for new projects we can create and give as holiday presents. This year Laurie scored a ton of balusters (staircase spindles) for free at a garage sale.

We had no clue what to do with them. Thank goodness for Margo, whose website has an entire section on projects made from balusters. You gotta love that. We decided to try candlesticks, which were a huge hit at the Christmas dinner table. I was so proud of them, I nervously asked Liz at Sticks and Bricks if she would consider selling them in her shop, and amazingly, she said yes! Here they are in her shop:

I especially love that they are all different sizes and can work as pairs or groups. Nine would make a super-cool huge Menorah!

barn door + sewing machine bases = dining room table

Long before the word “upcycle” entered our lexicon, we’ve been repurposing (another fancy new word) recycled and salvaged materials to create projects that are both cool and completely practical. No toilet paper cozies for us. One of Jen’s favorite projects is the dining room table that sits in her 1860s farmhouse in downtown Northampton. Her travels to one of her favorite salvage yards, Vermont Salvage in White River Junction, netted her a beat up barn door that was so old, the curve of the door closure was permanently carved into the wood. She flipped the seats down in her Honda Civic hatchback (best car ever), tossed the door in, and brought it home. Many, many hours of sanding and coating later, she had a tabletop, but no legs. Luckily, sewing machine bases are both plentiful and cheap in local antique stores, so after paying someone who was not afraid of power tools to affix the top to the bases, she had the most beautiful table she had ever seen.