the ReFab Diaries: upcycling DIY
Showing posts with label upcycling DIY

A while ago I compiled a post dedicated to repurposing vinyl and, ever since, I wanted to find some '45s in great colors to play with myself. And here they are! Since I'm drowning in clock-making hardware (all those book-clocks I once made to sell!) I turned them into clocks. Here's the tutorial ... giveaway to come! 

How many trends have collided here? Lets see ... neon + yarn bombing/balls + macrame + suspended plants. Yes, really. And you know what? I'm won over by the simplicity. I love this particular use of brights. I love hanging plants. I love yarn and crochet bombing! And I'm secretly thrilled that one of my parents' favorite '70s past-time (macrame!) is back.

A long time ago, in a blogosphere far far away, I found What I Made. Three things struck me - the unreal artistry of the blog itself, the humor (and creativity) that went into every project and the fact that the blogger was a DAD! Finally ... an amazing dad blog full of upcycled projects. I was hooked. And I went on to feature and share lots of the projects I found there. 

The blog went on to win a Webby ... and now, there's a book. And guess what? I have a review copy to oggle and say nice things about! And I'm going to say lots of nice things very soon and give a copy to one of you fabulous refabby folk. If I'm really lucky, I'll also have a little Q&A with Scott to publish along with the giveaway. This will all happen in the near future. 

Today, I want to send you to an awesome Mother's Day freebie I found out about from Scott's publisher... 

There are several projects in the book that are specifically makes "for mommy". Perhaps they came into being because "mommy" spends so much time sharing her home with three manic males, cardboard-debris mountains and glue guns? Like all the other projects, these include not only great instructions, but free templates. Right now, you can access two perfect-for-Mother's-Day projects (including free-to-download templates)!

So go get 'em and watch this space for an opportunity to win the book!

The folk at Woman's Day tweaked my idea a lot, but here's the original (which I have to admit a like a lot more) and tutorial:

Image credit: Julia Brenner

I haven't refabbed a book in ages ... but on Friday a friend shared a link to this designer "book shaped flower pot" and wondered if she could make it herself. I said... um, yes! Then I scoured my office for materials and here's how it went  :)

I obviously wanted to make this entirely upcycled. This meant a book otherwise destined for a landfill. And an internal container that is somehow "post consumer".  I quickly found the dated reference book on the "donate" pile in our office lunch room. Then I had to find a container of some sort that was either the width of the book or narrower. I almost gave up, then I found the rigid plastic rectangle you see pictured. It looks like technology packaging - I'm not sure, I found it at work (yes, I have a day job). So, here's what you need:

1. A large (used!) hardback book
2. Rigid plastic packaging (see below for the modification I had to make)
3. Mod Podge
4. A good craft knife

And what if you find a book that's a perfect size but you hate the title? You don't want to go to the trouble of making something like this if you don't want to display it in your home! Head to this wonderful post full of ideas (and tutorials) for covering old books.

Step 1:  Cut, cut, cut

Ideally, you'd use a plastic box that fit perfectly inside the book cover, like the designer version. However, without going out and buying something, this will be tricky to pull off. So my work around: Create a shelf inside the book to hold the much smaller container I found. I decided approx how low it could sit inside the book (about halfway down) and that's where I cut. If you've done anything like this before, then you know it takes a little time. And perfectly straight lines are hard to achieve. Happily, this is a really forgiving project. And the cutting took about 20 mins. I cut about halfway into the book then started ripping the pages out. After that, I tore them out as I cut.

Step 2:  Glue!

Apply glue/Mod Podge inside the covers. Then hold the book closed and pour in the Mod Podge. And I do mean pour. The stuff is miraculous, but only if you're generous. Rub it into the pages both inside and out. You're creating a seal that will hold the whole block together beautifully. So be a kid for a minute and get your hand dirty. Only one hand - you need the other to hold the book (or camera, if you're me!).

Step 3: Weight and wait...

Once you're happy with your smearing job, weight it all down with a few, umm, books. You see the Mod Podge drips? Immediately after a took this picture, I worked them into the pages.

Step 4: Detour... 

It dried in a couple of hours. And guess what? Without its pages and with all the compression, it was suddenly a narrower space than I'd allowed for. This meant that my nice plastic box no longer fit into the book. So I scoured my home and finally found an almost-dead bottle of body wash that fit the space perfectly. A bit smaller than I really wanted, but fine for the purposes of this tutorial!  I cut off the top and was close to done.

Step 5: Plant a little knowledge...

I love Devil's Ivy (Pothos) because I haven't been able to kill it. And because you can cut pieces off a plant, pop them in water and they live happily. No soil required. So I used a few pieces in my new vase/planter because the repurposed bottle is too small for "real" planting. And because I prefer things that grow over cut flowers.

And there it is! It stands beautifully, thanks to the weight of all the paper still in there. (The little wire spider is from South Africa)

If you object to the idea of cutting up books, give me a minute to change your mind ... read this!

I'm old enough to remember the move from vinyl-as-standard to CD. It was a wrench and the general feel (in South Africa, anyway) was that there was no way it was really going to happen. It felt like the end of the world in some weird way. And then that world did, in fact, end and we all survived the change. Having said that, the "mix tape" stuck around for a while. People hung on to their tape players and "walkmen", perhaps because the "portable CD player" was, ummmm... not so portable. Now digital music is our norm and perhaps you're sitting on a pile of CDs you never play. Or computer discs you no longer use? You know, the ones you once used to back up your college papers once upon a time?! Anyway, here are 22+ fun ways to repurpose those dust-collecting discs:

1. Outdoor lanterns 

2. Make musical flowers

3. Junk garden owl

4. Roof shingles

I think this might be the third filing-cabinet makeover featured here ... who knew they were so re-fab-able? This one's a real star - don't you love the racing stripes? Full tutorial at Trash-to-Treasure

I can't say I've ever been inspired by a plastic bowl. Not something I look at and think "wow, you'd make a great ...". Nope. But I'm willing to change my mind about things. And these great tutorials help!

1. The bird feeder - on p12 (inspired by this)

2. The storage pods

3. The perforated globe pendant lamp

For the last week, I've been posting Finch's Threadless jewelry tutorials. Now, I'm giving away a little set of the goodies I made: the pin/hair accessory, simple pendant and earrings. If you missed the instructions (and/or want to see lots of additional images of what you can win), here are the links again:

1. Teardrop earrings

2. Pin / Hair clip

3. Simple pendant

4. Statement geometric necklace

Here's the third and final installment in the series of Finch's Threadless tutorials... a statement geometric necklace. I really love this piece - lots of work but worth it, I think!

For all the basics of working with aluminum cans please see this tutorial. However, DO NOT apply dimensional magic until you've made all the holes in the beads. Read on...

I wish the images were better ... but I'm sharing in spite of poor quality. Because this is such a sweet version of the DIY play kitchen. Created using a coffee table because the intended little chef is so very very short.  More here.

You have special guests arriving and a box-filled basement in which to accommodate them. You don't have the time or the money to "finish" the basement, so what do you do to welcome them? You unpack all the boxes and use them to do this! I love it (I know, you're shocked) because it's thoughtful, whimsical and really personal. Way to upcycle Nikki! Read more and see lots more pics at Whimsy Love

Here's the second installment in the series of Finch's Threadless tutorials... a flower pin/hair accessory for spring.

Here's the first of the Finch's Threadless tutorials... super-simple earrings! I'll also cover the basics of working with aluminum cans (in my limited experience!). 

If you know me (or you've read my bio) then you know I love good beer. Emphasis on good... really good. And since I live in Chicago, I'm spoiled for choice when it comes to local craft breweries, creating amazing brews. Great branding (visual design and names) seems to go hand-in-hand with craft brewing. I'm always entertained (and impressed by) the packaging, the quirky names and the rich, fun descriptions of each beer.

Finch's has been around since 2009. I'm no expert, but they seem to have made their mark very quickly!  And the collaboration with Threadless in 2011 (to create a branded IPA) produced not only a great beer, but a really inspiring collection of designs. When I saw the winning can, I thought jewelry! Yup. I really did. Ever since I posted a collection of "upcycled can" ideas, I've been wanting to try it myself. Apparently I finally found my inspiration! So, over the course of the next week, I'll post tutorials for each of the pieces you see above. As each one goes live, so will the links below so please check back!

1. Teardrop earrings

2. Pin / Hair clip

3. Simple pendant

4. Statement geometric necklace

I seem to be living in perpetual winter. I had a 5 week break in sunny South Africa and still feel like it's been winter forever. Because it snowed today. Today is 25 March. I want to cry ... and hack up all my winter clothes. But that would be bad and wasteful. But just in case I can't help myself, here are lots of cool things I could do with those hacked up sweaters:

Old kitchen (rubber) gloves can apparently be beautiful!  So don't throw them out because of that one tiny hole...

1. Make a bracelet

2. Be inspired by this incredible jewelry

3. Cut them up into hairbands and headbands

4. Fill it with plaster and create a jewelry holder

5. Ducky finger puppets!

Is it just me, or are zip ties (cable ties) bombing the blogosphere? Maybe it's a bandwagon... but it's certainly a colorful one! So, in lieu of actual spring color, I'm bombing today's post with zip-tie colors. Here's a whole array of ways to repurpose these funny little things...

When I happen upon a blog called Filth Wizardry, I'm going to spend some time looking around. And I'm going to have certain expectations. In this case, expectations were met!  Click through for the full how-to on the Fairy Houses and the amazing milk-jug dragon.

I looked ... I looked again. And yes - this refab does, in fact, involve upcycling soda bottles. And there's duct tape of course (separate tutorial for the shade).

Will this kind of fun repurposing solve our plastic problem? Of course not. But every time you look at materials getting reused this way, you're reminded of their durability. Plastic is forever. It is not disposable. So let's repurpose as much as we can.  Head to Matsutake for the instructions.

I think I own one magazine file ... mostly they (the magazines) just live in piles around my house. But this is the second post (in a row!) dedicated to magazine files. Perhaps I'm trying to tell myself something?  Anyway, this is a classy refab. Simple. Smart. Head to Desert Willow Lane for the tutorial.