Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spraypainted bust

I love the classic look of busts (and other statues) and I always keep my eye out for decent sized ones wherever I go. I would fill our house with them if I could :) So I was very happy when I found this beautiful lady at the thrift store recently.

She's clearly what I would (very un-politically correct) call Indian, but since the English language is very confusing at this point (Indian from India or Indian from America? Or Asian American from India or Native American from the US? Or maybe Asian from Asia or... Confusion all around here.) I'll clarify with the politically correct term Native American (and I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that she's NOT from Asia). No telling if she's supposed to be anyone in particular or just a generic beauty. Either way I liked her bones, so to speak.

You know thrift stores very rarely delivers you anything in a ready-to-use shape and this was the case with Pocahontas, here. Looked like someone had "colored her in" which made her look kind of creepy (blank black stare, anyone?). And she had a few little nicks here and there as well. So my thought was to paint her a classic black or white. After some pondering and a quick inventory of my spraypaint options on hand I went with a glossy white.

Ah, much better! The glossy bright white makes her look a little more "modern" as well.

All the little nicks are now perfectly hidden as well and she looks brand new.

When thrift store shopping you have to be prepared to buy something great on the spot because you know full well it's not going to be there the next time you drop by. This lady got purchased without me really having a great spot for her in our house because I didn't want to pass her up. So for now she hangs out in our bedroom where she gracefully holds a beaded necklace (which incidentally makes her look more like one of the other kind of *ahem* Indians, from Asia, you know. And what do I know, maybe she's got a little bit of both in her? :) The more of a mix - the merrier, right?).

 I assume you all already know to go to the thrift store with the spray paint option in mind for everything you see there? If not you should start doing that from now on. I always take my sweet time combing the isles at my favorite haunts while this mantra goes through my head "What could this be in a re-imagined state and how would it look with a coat of spray paint?". Re-purposing or re-painting something someone else has discarded can completely change the look and feel from outdated, boring and trashy to chic, elegant and surprisingly useful.

And THAT'S what the whole thrill of thrift store shopping is all about (for those of you who haven't tried it yet).

So, which of Pocahontas' three looks would you prefer if she were yours - original, all white or bejeweled? (Psst, there's no right answer since we're all different. I'm just curious :)) I happen to be very happy with her new look. The necklace may or may not be a permanent thing, though. We'll see.
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Faux cowhide

Oh, I wish I could have the real deal. But there's no room for $200+ real deals in our budget at the moment. For just short of $20 I gave myself the look without the sting in the wallet.

 It was really easy, even those of you who don't normally craft can do this one. Promise :)

Here's what I did.

1. I went to the fabric store and got myself 2 yards of Velboa faux cowhide. It's normally $14.99 at Joann's but they were 40% off. (Notice the smudgy spot? I noticed after taking all the pics that I had a big fat finger print on the lens... Sorry about the unprofessionalism here :) So, disregard that, if you can. It's in every pic unfortunately. Scattered toys and DVDs are a bonus and something I provide for free in almost every single post.)

 2. Flipped the fabric over and free-handed a general outline of a standard cowhide with a Sharpie. Some asymmetry is good, it adds to the realism.

3. Cut off the excess fabric with scissors. This is a messy affair, be warned. I also tossed the whole thing in the dryer on low heat at this point to get rid off the fuzz. Worked like a charm! This fabric doesn't unravel so things should be good from now on.

4. Remembered to take a before picture for the blog!

5. Placed my "hide", anchoring the edges under furniture to help keep it in place. That's it!

A few things to consider.

This is just a flimsy piece of fabric, but it's layered over a sisal rug and carpeting so I think that will help things stay in place. I also placed the hide in the corner of the room where there's not normally that much traffic. I may, if I end up having too much trouble keeping it in place, add some carpet tape or non-slip pad underneath.

It's washable so that should help with the kids and their messy habits.

If I decide down the road that it's not working here it'll work just as well thrown over a bed or hung on the wall.

If you want it to be more like a standard rug with more heft I've seen people back the faux hide with a heavy fabric so that's something to consider as well. 

Anyway, I think this looks really good for the price and it'll give us something to dig our toes into as the winter approaches. Time to snuggle up!

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Friday, October 12, 2012

The many uses of contact paper

You guys know I like to be cheap, preferably without it LOOKING cheap. It can be a fine line sometimes and I can't guarantee I've always been on the right side of that line, but I certainly try :)

One of those cheap but amazing crafting materials I've used for impact without the price tag is contact paper. And when you feel like a change you just peel it off and start over! 

Many of you remember my fridge makeover (and if you don't you should definitely check it out).

Yup, that's all contact paper. And it's still going strong now 2 years later, looks just like it did when I first did it (minus a few scrapes inflicted by violent kids with sharp weapons). I could replace the scraped ones but I haven't bothered because they're barely visible, and the kids still live with us.

Well, recently I came across someone who'd done the same thing on a door window pane with transparent contact paper for a frosted look. Genius! I should have thought of that one but sadly I didn't. Didn't stop me from promptly copying the idea :)

I used her template because it was easier than hunting one down on the internet and I'm very happy with the result. The process was the same as for the fridge.


 This is the best pic I have of the before and it's hard to tell but I had a turquoise piece of knit fabric starched to the window for privacy. I liked the look OK but the frosted pattern looks more "professional", if you know what I mean :) I love that you can still wipe the window down with this frosted contact paper treatment which you can't do with frosted spray paint.

Purely by accident I also learned you can use matte black contact paper for a chalkboard surface. I know they have special contact paper for that but there's really no need to order specialty paper online since the regular matte paper works perfectly well.

 Case in point. This is our formerly aged white plastic front dishwasher covered in said matte contact paper. The dishwasher works perfectly well even if it looks as old as Methuselah so this was a quick fix. This has been up for, oh, I would say about a year? The kids use it all the time.

Their over enthusiasm has caused a rip in the contact paper and there's also some scratch marks so it's really time to replace the contact paper here. But that will be quick and free since I still have more contact paper on my roll. (The fact that we use chalk meant for sidewalks could have something to do with the scratch marks as well).

If you look beyond the fridge into the kitchen you see the dishwasher in it's virgin state.

So after discovering contact paper's chalkboard abilities I started having fun with my kitchen glass ware.

 Various glass containers collected at thrift stores, filled with the essentials of laundry and cooking.

 I found vintage labels online, printed them out on paper and copied their shapes onto contact paper and stuck them on my containers. Some lettering and doodling with a chalk pen and I have custom erasable labels in a vintage style.

I've also used this method for making custom labels to stick on gift bags, etc. I'm planning on making tie-on tags with stiff card and this contact paper to mark contents in various baskets around the house.

And finally. When I was tired of our dining room feeling dark and unfinished I added a chair rail in white contact paper cut into strips and adhered to the wall.

It's been up for almost a year already but I'm almost certain this is going to be a temporary solution. When I've finally gotten the curtain up in here and pillows added and the floor cloth repainted I think this room will feel more put together and the chair rail won't be needed anymore. But we'll see, I guess :)

Here's the dining room without the chair rail.

That's all I've come up with so far, as far as using contact paper in home decorating. Isn't it cool what you can do with such a cheap and easily available material, though? And it looks good (although that could be one of those "in the eye of the beholder" kind of things, I guess). Do you have any great ideas of how to use contact paper in the home? I would love to hear them!

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